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The Founder  : Corporate Bites
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Friday, January 20, 2017
Human drama
John Lee Hancock
Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini

The next time you take a big bite of a McDonald’s hamburger, you may wonder if a slice of ethics would have made it tastier. On the other hand, perhaps an overemphasis on fair business practice may have never turned McDonald’s into a multi-billion dollar franchise. 


Director John Lee Hancock narrates the success story of Ray Kroc by harping on the magic of “persistence”.  Every time a door is slammed on the face of salesman Ray Kroc, he keeps himself going by endlessly listening to motivational speeches on persistence. It’s the only route to realising one’s dreams.


What Ray Kroc covets at first glance, he’ll pursue and grab. It doesn’t matter whether he’s eyeing an innovative outlet created by the McDonald brothers or he’s smitten by Joan, the wife of a business associate.


Sympathies naturally veer towards Mac and Dick McDonald, the two who visualised and realised the concept of a clean, family outlet that’s uncompromising on quality. In fact when Ray Kroc, to whom they’ve shown their business model with unstinted openness, offers them the dream of a countrywide franchise, Dick’s only worry is, what about quality control? The brothers had innovation and integrity on their side but Ray Kroc had single-minded persistence where his conscience never figured. It was Kroc’s never-give-up approach that took McDonald’s from one outlet in Southern California to the rest of the world.


The takeover of somebody else’s name and off-the-contract promises that are easily broken, are commonplace in the corporate world. But if you’re not put off by the lack of ethics, it’s hugely because of Michael Keaton’s compelling act as Ray Kroc. He’s so blatant about what he wants that he just doesn’t seem sneaky. That goes even for Joan from the moment he first spots her, never mind if her husband is around.


Ray Kroc is not the kind of man you should have a handshake or any kind of deal with. First wife Ethel would agree with that.


But as a successful man who sold the familiar golden arch to the whole world, Ray Kroc’s story is worth a watch.


For a film that lays out the ways of the corporate world, The Founder gets a 3* rating.              


Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Columnist, Critic & Author


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