The first thing you’ll probably do after watching The Founder is go to a McDonald’s and get a Big Mac. The second thing you’ll probably do is forget that you ever watched The Founder. This larger-than-life story of a down-on-his-luck milkshake salesman-turned-overseer of the most iconic fast food franchise in the world fails to leave an impact, as easily digestible and unremarkable as one of its burgers.
The Founder accurately depicts the rise of Ray Kroc, the fall of Dick and Mac McDonald, and the serendipitous introductions of the other key players in-between. But The Founder gets caught up in hokey sentimentality, afraid to add any rough edges to its characters, leaving us a movie with no personality or true grit.
Tackling larger-than-life true stories on film is difficult, as you want to make these real stories and characters entertaining enough to drive a movie but not so much that they derive too far from actual history. The Founder, unfortunately, fails at this. We know as little about Ray Kroc as we did before the picture first started, depicting him as a man who really just got lucky and whose best ideas were passed onto him by others.
Maybe that’s the point of The Founder, that the man we all refer to as the godfather of McDonald’s maybe wasn’t so much a determined, capitalist balls buster like the founders of other massive corporations that rule the world, but just a regular guy who was in the right place at the right time. Certainly, that makes Kroc far more interesting than other CEO’s in real life, but makes him far less interesting as the subject of major Hollywood movie.