Friday, 10 August 2018

The Founder (4½ Stars)

Of all the films I've watched and enjoyed in the last few years "The Founder" is the one that I have the most trouble describing. I can describe the plot. That part is easy. What I can't do is explain why I like it. If I try to recommend the film to someone else it sounds boring, and if the other person asks me "What's so good about that?" all I can do is shrug my shoulders.

I can praise Michael Keaton's acting, of course. It's always a joy to see him on screen. He makes Ray Kroc, the self-named founder of McDonald's, come to life. What the film doesn't do is reconcile the two halves of his personality. On the one hand he's a naive hard-working person who believes that anyone can succeed if he perseveres. On the other hand he's a ruthless businessman who won't hesitate to crush anyone beneath his feet, friend or foe. Did he progress from one to the other, or were both personality traits always in him side by side?

Ray Kroc wasn't a pleasant person. The way he cheated the McDonald's brothers must stand as one of the greatest frauds of the 20th Century. He never honoured his promise to pay royalties which were in the value of more than $100 million per year. He stole their name and forced them out of business.

Maybe I enjoy the film because it's part of my life. I used to visit McDonald's in Bad Cannstatt when it was the only cheap hamburger restaurant near me. A few years later three McDonald's restaurants opened on the Königstraße in Stuttgart. My children loved McDonald's and begged me to take them there, so I knew all three of them well. Those were the good old days. Today I very rarely eat at McDonald's, and if I do it's usually just ice cream at McDonald's in Marienstraße before a film starts.

Nevertheless, McDonald's has lost the magic it had in the 1950's. When Ray Kroc first visited McDonald's in San Bernardino he said it was the best hamburger he had ever tasted. I would never have said that, not even in the days when I often visited McDonald's. It's not just the taste. The speed has gone. There's too much variety these days. In the 1950's there were was only one hamburger which could be ordered with or without cheese, so service was immediate.

I'd like to get into a discussion about this film. Please leave comments, telling me what you think about it, positive or negative. Better still, I'd like to sit and watch the film with someone. I watch too many films alone at home. When I lived in England I at least had Buster lie across my lap whenever I watched a film.

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