When The Founder begins, it seems as if the film is going to find itself on the same trajectory as many other movies we’ve seen in the past. Ray Kroc, played brilliantly by Michael Keaton, is a man on a mission. Specifically, he wants to sell a bunch of milkshake makers that he has created. Unfortunately, the more he travels the country in search of restaurants who need his product, the more it seems as though he won’t be able to find success. Furthermore, as a result of his financial difficulties, his marriage seems to be crumbling.
Nothing seems to be working for Ray, until one fateful day. A fast food business in California calls him and orders multiple machines. Intrigued, he drives out to find himself at the very first McDonald’s restaurant. Very quickly, he becomes enraptured by the way in which the McDonald brothers handle their business. After all, they seem to have figured out the ultimate secrets to running a successful restaurant. Being the kind men they are, they invite Kroc into their kitchen and show him how it’s done. Suddenly, Kroc begins to realize that he no longer possesses a passion for his milkshake maker; he wants to jump on the McDonald’s bandwagon and get in business with the brothers. However, the brothers don’t care to franchise their restaurant. An unsuccessful attempt has left a bad taste in their mouths.
However, Kroc is able to convince them to franchise—and the rest is history. As the film plays out, the audience slowly begins to realize that they may have gotten Kroc wrong all along. He isn’t the aging salesman to be pitied; he is something else entirely, something we haven’t really seen on the screen before. All the performances in this film are truly outstanding.