Sunday, 19 February 2017

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: THE FOUNDER


For those that want a review of a film that came out in cinemas last Friday, I will say this: “The Founder” is worth seeing for the performances alone, particularly Michael Keaton’s slimy portrayal of salesman Ray Kroc, played as a kind of 1950s Beetlejuice in a suit that makes you glad Tom Hanks turned the role down, and a very controlled, beardless Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald, who created the archetypal fast food restaurant with his brother Mac, through many years of trial and error, then through scientific precision, which Kroc then franchised across the world. The story itself is told compellingly, making you excited for how the ingenuity and graft of the McDonald brothers paid off for them but, if you know how the real-life events played out, the plot will have no surprise at all – if you don’t, it will be entertaining, but not quite captivating, except for how the characters then act, or react. However, as a biopic, it is the characters you stay for. For that, I will give it a 7 out of 10, if you need a final mark.


The reason I am running away from doing a proper review is that what you will make of “The Founder” may well depend on your view of the world. For some, Ray Kroc may be the archetypal American hero in the Ayn Rand mould, as seen in “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”: self-actualising super-men that shape and straddle history, and if anyone is left behind, it is their own fault, such as Kroc’s wife, who just wanted to visit the club more often, or the McDonald brothers, whose vision was ultimately too small and constricting for Kroc.

On the other hand, if this were a Frank Capra film, the McDonald brothers would have been the stars, but the film would have to have stopped the moment they met Ray Kroc, the villain of the piece, stealing the hard work of others, and claiming the credit – Kroc is shown to have a moment of consciousness, but only at the end of the story, after taking control of someone else’s family name.

Kroc and the McDonalds are shown as two sides of the American dream – you are not asked to choose sides, but you will view it the way you want, and both could be valid. I know which side I am on, having already used the phrase “Beetlejuice in a Suit.”

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