The Founder is a reasonably solid drama, anchored in a strong central performance and a timely narrative.
In form, The Founder plays like a very old fashioned piece of prestige cinema. It is a grand and sweeping character-driving historical drama that spans a seven-year period from Dick and Mac McDonald’s first encounter with Ray Kroc to his eventual purchase of the family and business name. Unlike many contemporary historical dramas, there is no tight focus on a singular significant historical event. The Founder does not attempt to illuminate its central character through intense scrutiny of one big moment. Instead, it tries to tell the whole story.
The Founder hits all of the expected beats from a film like this. Although it is obvious rooted in a true story, the movie tracing an arc as smooth as that iconic golden “m.” This not necessarily a bad thing. The Founder knows what it is doing, and it sets out about doing it in an efficient manner. In its own strange way, this feels appropriate. The Founder is as precisely constructed as the “swift service” engine that Ray Kroc elevates from a local quirk to a national franchise. The Founder never falters too badly, never meanders unforgivably.
More than that, The Founder has the luxury of a fantastic central performance from Michael Keaton as the huckster salesman who attaches himself to a small family business and manoeuvres himself to the head of an international empire.