THE FOUNDER — Review by Susan Granger

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Michael Keaton (“Spotlight,” “Birdman”) plays ruthless Ray Kroc in this backstory of the ubiquitous McDonald’s franchise, an innovative, assembly-line idea that revolutionized the fast food industry. In 1952, traveling salesman Kroc was working hard, peddling milkshake machines to drive-ins in the Midwest, while avidly absorbing “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Read on…

“Nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”

Then he gets a huge order from a roadside restaurant in Sam Bernardino, California, run by brothers Maurice “Mack” (John Carroll Lynch) and Richard “Dick” (Nick Offerman) McDonald.

Intrigued, Kroc marvels at their mechanized fast-food operation, learning how they transformed their kitchen into a speedy “symphony of efficiency” and persuading them to allow him to franchise their carefully managed concept.

As Kroc’s ambitious enterprise grows, he not only becomes increasingly alienated from his long-suffering wife (Laura Dern) but also develops a relationship with the wife (Linda Cardellini) of one of his business associates (Patrick Wilson).

But Kroc soon realizes that, because of his restrictive contract with the McDonald brothers, he’s losing money. Enter Harry J. Sonneborn (BJ Novak), a financial advisor who convinces him that he needs to own the land on which he builds.

Cold-hearted Kroc maintains “Business is war,” adapting the iconic Golden Arches into a global brand.

Scripted by Robert Siegel (“The Wrestler”) and directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side,” “Saving Mr. Banks”), it captures Kroc’s ambiguity, as Michael Keaton’s warm smile and folksy friendliness takes the edge off Kroc’s cutthroat business strategy.

TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein summed up the timely relevance of Kroc’s story, noting: “You have a persistent and, at times, calculating entrepreneur representing both the best and worst of American businessmen…It’s up to audiences to determine whether he’s a visionary, an opportunist or a crook – and how that fits in our society.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Founder” is a slick, slyly sleazy 7 – revealing the Faustian bargain that created one of the world’s largest food corporations.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.