Direction: John Lee Hancock
Actors: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman
Rating: 3 / 5
It was a combination of pluck, passion and perseverance that led an unsuccessful milkshake-mixer salesman to transform a humble roadside burger stand into the multibillion-dollar fast-food corporation we now know as McDonald’s.
Working from a script by Robert Siegel, Texan filmmaker John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks) transports us to the mid-1950s to recap the little-known true story of the ruthless dealmaker (Michael Keaton) who hustled the two McDonald brothers (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch) out of their own establishment.
The Founder effectively indicts unsavoury business ethics, corporate greed and the predatory nature of capitalist enterprise.
It benefits from a stirring storyline and a first-rate ensemble. The dialogue is sprinkled with zingers like the one now familiar from the trailer, where one of the McDonald brothers says in clipped tones, ‘There’s a wolf in the henhouse, and we let him in’.
Lynch and Offerman are impressive, as is Laura Dern’s portrayal of the ‘hamburglar’s’ long-suffering wife. BJ Novak adds an unexpected dimension to his role of the legal eagle who advises the ‘founder’ in his financial wheeler-dealing.
Following Birdman and Spotlight, it is another stellar outing for Michael Keaton. A Best Actor Oscar nomination is almost assured.
The film occasionally loses momentum, especially in its exposition-heavy first half. Overall, The Founder does not amount to a gourmet meal, but it’s worth a drive-through.
Watch the trailer for The Founder here