McDonald’s was a place you’d be able to find me quite a lot when I was a teenager. There was one summer I kept going there because I had a crush on one of the girls behind the counter, but it was also the spot to meet up with friends, away from your parents and enjoying something to eat. Of course it still has that function for many, but I hardly visit it anymore. Still it is unbelievable how one small restaurant on the west coast of the US managed to grow into one of the biggest restaurant chains in the world. And as The Founder shows, that’s all because (mostly) one man, Ray Kroc (played by Michael Keaton).
He used to be a salesman, trying to sell milkshake machines. To make his sales pitch he needs to travel a lot, but it’s a tough life as he doesn’t find that many willing customers. The restaurants he visit often are slow and have bad service. When he receives a phone call from the main office during one of his trips he hear that there is a restaurant which is willing to buy five machines. He thinks it is a mistake. It turns out it isn’t and he decides to see this location. The thing he sees there is shocking. This restaurant works differently and is able to get him his food in seconds. He decides to get to know the men who started this restaurant, named McDonald’s, and convinces them to sign a contract with him so he can set up a franchise.
Of course McDonald’s success is widely known, but how it got there and which tough business decisions were made to get there most people probably won’t be familiar with. It’s something which The Founder makes clear in a film with a quick pace and tight story. Keaton plays a character you both cheer for, but are cautious about as well and thanks to a great supporting cast and a convincing realisation of the time period it is a movie which is a joy to watch but also makes you think twice the next time you see those ” Golden Arches”.