Michael Keaton came into this world on September 5th, 1951 in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. He is the youngest of seven children and his father was a civil engineer and surveyor while his mother was a homemaker. He began his career in the industry in 1975 by appearing in TV shows such as Where the Heart is and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Keaton progressed from there to doing bit parts on other TV shows up until his big break in 1982 in Ron Howard’s Night Shift and then in 1983 in Mr. Mom. Of course his most notable roles would come years later – as Betelgeuse in Beetlejuice and then as both Bruce Wayne and Batman in the 1989 Batman film. Since then he has been off and on Hollywood’s radar up until 2014 with his brilliant performance in Birdman and then in 2015 with his portrayal of Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson in Spotlight. Now Keaton is attempting to continue this streak in his new film entitled The Founder.
Based on the true story, Michael Keaton stars as Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman who has never had the best luck at his job. One day he gets a call from two brothers in California who want to purchase a large assortment of his products for their thriving business. Upon meeting with the owners – Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) Kroc is overwhelmed with excitement over the operation and presentation of this single burger restaurant. Feeling that McDonald’s could be a much larger enterprise, he convinces the brothers to allow him to franchise the business into other territories in the U.S.
Continuing on his recent trend, Michael Keaton is absolutely excellent in his portrayal of Ray Kroc. He is able to come across as a man who believes that persistence is the key to getting what you want in life no matter what the consequences. Even though he is technically the villain in the film, due to both Keaton’s interpretation as well as the fantastic and interesting backstory for the character, Ray Kroc is undeniably likable. In a way he is kind of like Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker – a man that you want to hate and that you should hate but ultimately end up gaining an affinity for due to understanding their true motives.
Some other noteworthy performances come from the McDonald brothers. Nick Offerman chews the scenery with his harsh yet fair attitude while John Carroll Lynch is somewhat subdued yet charismatic. Both men offer a great dynamic that allows the characters to mesh together in a cohesive way while still offering completely opposing viewpoints. The last notable performance would be that of Laura Dern who play Ray Kroc’s wife. Her scenes and her performance are very subtle however you get a good sense of what she is going through as she attempts to support her husband through his numerous disappointments and failures.
The overall presentation of the film isn’t flashy or wholly unique but what it lacks in that department it makes up with the wonderful dialogue and the actors’ incredible performances. Nevertheless I did find one small issue that I feel that I should address. There are several instances where old stock photos and film footage were used throughout the film. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with it, however the quality and implementation of them were vastly inconsistent. Some were high resolution that looked fantastic, while others appeared to be a thumbnail image that was blown up and cropped for the screen. It’s a very minor issue in comparison to the film as a whole, which I highly recommend checking out!
About The Founder
Synopsis: The true story about how McDonald’s became the largest fast food empire in the world.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writers: Robert D. Siegel
Stars: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern
Runtime: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes