The Founder

The Founder

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The Founder follows Ray Kroc who stumbles upon the biggest opportunity of his life when he discovers the first MacDonald's and agrees to franchise it turning it into a global empire but at what expense?

The Founder is a delicious cinematic meal that serves up the gritty history of an American icon — McDonald's.

Starring Michael Keaton in an exemplary performance as Ray Kroc, the man behind the golden arches, the film delves into ambition, ethics, and the American Dream.

Directed by John Lee Hancock and released in 2016, The Founder marinated in a screenplay by Robert Siegel that blends historical facts with narrative flair.

Though it may not be a wholesome family treat, it's a revealing look at the unforgiving world of business that shapes our everyday lives.

What Is The Founder About?

Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) had spent years as a struggling salesman looking for the next big deal. But his luck changes, when he finds a revolutionary burger bar that has developed a highly efficient way of service.

The McDonald Brothers, Richard (Nick Offerman) and Maurice (John Carroll Lynch), had developed their burger bar in San Bernardino to provide quality food quicker and faster than ever before.

Designing their own kitchens in a way reminiscent of Henry Ford's production line, this simple idea of cheap, quality fast food that is served with a smile turned out to be a huge hit.

They even designed an iconic bespoke restaurant with golden arches, but never expanded the idea because of difficulties with quality control.

Smelling opportunity, Kroc convinces the brothers to let him franchise their concept. However, he quickly realises that the brothers are content with their small, quality-controlled operation and are resistant to his aggressive expansion ideas.

Their contract restricts him in multiple ways, from menu changes to supplier choices, but Kroc finds loopholes and ways around them.

He even shifts his focus from selling franchises to land ownership through the formation of the Franchise Realty Corporation, ultimately forcing his way into total control and labelling himself as The Founder of McDonald's.

The Founder Official Trailer

Is The Founder Worth Watching?

Despite its upbeat setting, The Founder is essentially a tragic tale of how relentless ambition can lead to both groundbreaking success and moral decay.

Much in the same way as The Beanie Bubble, Kroc is portrayed as both a visionary and a villain. He is a complex character who sacrifices relationships, ethics, and the original vision of McDonald’s in his unstoppable quest for growth.

Michael Keaton’s magnetic performance adds layers of complexity to Ray Kroc, painting him neither as a hero nor a full-blown villain. His nuanced performance helps the audience grapple with the moral implications of Kroc’s actions.

But it is John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman, playing the McDonalds brothers who work best with Keaton. It's worth watching The Founder just to see these guys bounce off each other.

The Founder doesn’t offer easy answers. It poses challenging questions about the American Dream, entrepreneurship, and the ethics of business, leaving the audience to ponder long after the credits roll.

And while the movie does a good job of developing Ray Kroc, the supporting characters, particularly the McDonald brothers, could have been fleshed out more. Their perspective seems secondary in the grand scheme of the narrative.

At times, the film drags, particularly in the middle where the tension between Kroc and the McDonald brothers could have been heightened to add more drama and engagement.

Overall though, The Founder is a surprisingly good film. I would say that it is not so much a family film, kids may get a little bored with this. But for adults, The Founder gives a fascinating yet entertaining look at how one of the most recognisable brands in the world got to where it is today.

Is The Founder Based On A True Story?

Yes, The Founder is based on a true story. It chronicles the rise of the McDonald's fast-food empire, focusing primarily on Ray Kroc's relationship with Dick McDonald and Mac McDonald. And his eventual takeover of the business.

The film is largely grounded in historical events. Although it should be noted that certain details have been dramatised or simplified for the sake of storytelling.

The movie accurately portrays the brothers speedy system a revolutionary fast-food preparation method that really did change the restaurant industry.

Plus, the brothers did indeed have a small but successful operation in San Bernardino, California, which caught Ray Kroc's eye.

The film correctly shows that Kroc was initially hindered by his franchising contract with the brothers, which led him to establish the Franchise Realty Corporation. By owning the land on which the restaurants were built, Kroc gained leverage over the McDonald brothers, a crucial factor in his eventual takeover.

The film's portrayal of Kroc buying out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million and a handshake agreement for a continuing royalty, which he later reneges on, is also historically accurate.

However, there are varying accounts about how embittered the relationship became, with some sources suggesting it was not as confrontational as the film implies.

Some events are compressed or reordered for dramatic effect. While the film provides an overall accurate timeline of the major milestones, it does take creative liberties to heighten the narrative tension.

Overall, The Founder is a satisfying biopic that offers a reasonably accurate account of the formation and rise of McDonald's, but like most biopics, it's not a substitute for historical documentation.

The Founder Movie Cast

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc

Nick Offerman as Richard “Dick” McDonald

John Carroll Lynch as Maurice “Mac” McDonald

Linda Cardellini as Joan Smith

B. J. Novak as Harry J. Sonneborn

Laura Dern as Ethel Kroc

Justin Randell Brooke as Fred Turner

Kate Kneeland as June Martino

Patrick Wilson as Rollie Smith

Griff Furst as Jim Zien

Wilbur Fitzgerald as Jerry Cullen

Afemo Omilami as Mr. Merriman


  • Micheal Keaton
  • Fascinating & Entertaining
  • Brilliantly Told Story


  • Can Feel Like A Huge McDonald's Advert
  • McDonald Brothers Characters Lacking The Same Depth As Ray Kroc


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