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Movie Review: The Founder

The Founder is an entertaining and well-put-together movie about the business life of Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald's arguably the most successful franchise chain in America, then the world. As the movie begins, we see Ray, 52, enduring turndown after turndown from restaurant owners to his sales pitches for his five-in-one milkshake mixers. Then a big order from the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino grabs his attention. Off he drives from several states away to see their prosperous hamburger stand. Once Kroc and the McDonald brothers meet, business growth, obstacles, serendipitous chance meetings, and somewhat-less-than-honorable dealings all went into the mix of an incredible business story that has franchisee and franchisor viewers alike figuratively nodding their heads in recognition of the realistic depiction of business and human nature.

Kroc was not the founder of McDonald's, the McDonald brothers were, yet he put "Founder" on his business cards. Contracts were made to be broken, he said. While he had a conscience, he took short cuts to further his business success and that of the chain.

The McDonald brothers, in contrast, come across as people who believe in and live up to high ethical and quality standards in business. But while the brothers are definitely successful, it's Kroc who leads the company to become a business legend.

The Founder is ruthlessly savvy about commerce and the deals that keep the wheels turning. "Do it for America," Kroc tells the brothers when they balk at expanding. …Keaton is too smart an actor to play the self-made Kroc as a villain. He has a gift for showing the scars of a born salesman coming up the hard way and listening to motivational speeches in a series of shabby hotel rooms. Like this gem from Calvin Coolidge: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence ... nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent." Like Apple founder Steve Jobs, Kroc – who died in 1984 – had a genius for marketing the talent of others. Is that a lesser gift? Not in these United States. Not then. And not in the age of Trump. Set more than a half century ago, The Founder proves to be a movie for a divisive here and now. Step right up. You might just learn something. God help us. — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

It's surprising that The Founder has not received even one Academy Award nomination. Michael Keaton is a highly believable and entertaining Kroc and the directing, editing and scriptwriting are first-rate.



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