The FounderThe Founder
Year: 2016
Rating: PG-13
Length: 115 minutes / 1.92 hours

I hate to admit it, but many of these biopics about successful individuals all come off as the same story. Some down-on-his-luck guy stumbles across an idea that he steals (or has stolen from him) and makes his own to enormous success, betraying his friends and family along the way. We saw it in The Social Network (2010), Jobs (2013), Joy (2015), and The Greatest Showman (2017). The Founder (2016) is just another in this almost cookie-cutter genre that covers the origins of the McDonald corporation we know today.

That’s not to say that The Founder isn’t entertaining. As an engineer, I was fascinated at how the McDonald brothers were able to be successful by creating efficiencies and eliminating waste in the process of selling hamburgers and other fast food. The trick is that the titular character, Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), is half protagonist (the one you want to root for) and half antagonist (the one you realize is a complete slimeball). I’m all for celebrating enormous success. However, these films often paint the picture with the subtitle of, “but at what cost?”

Perhaps that’s the moral of the story for these films: complete power corrupts completely. You don’t truly know the mettle of a man until he claws and scrapes and moves all the way up the ladder of success. Money changes people. Success changes people. There’s certainly an aspect of ego that factors in here, with humility vanishing away as the individual starts to realize that people are beginning to seek him out, instead of the other way around. In the case of The Founder, there’s pretty much straight-up theft of intellectual and marital property that puts a sour taste in my mouth like a milkshake that isn’t made with milk.

A cookie-cutter corporate success story with all its ugly edges, I give The Founder 3.5 stars out of 5.

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