Archive for January 28th, 2017

From modest beginnings, a monster would rise: Ray Kroc’s ascent is chronicled in ‘The Founder’

January 28, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 28, 2017

John Lee Hancock’s new biopic, The Founder, is an only-in-America not-quite-rags-to-mega-riches story.

At the opening of the movie, written by Robert D. Siegel, main character Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a 52-year-old traveling salesman who’s struggling to sell high-volume milkshake blenders at a variety of desultory small-town diners and drive-in restaurants. The Krocs aren’t exactly poor: Ray and Ethel (a typically excellent Laura Dern) have a lovely house in an affluent Illinois community, but they’re certainly not keeping up with the upper-crust Joneses who boast about their overseas vacations during the couple’s infrequent dinners at a lavish local country club.

Then Kroc’s company, Prince Castle Sales, receives an order for six blenders out of nowhere. The baffled salesman calls the San Bernadino, Calif., restaurant that placed the order, certain that there’s been a mistake; after all, why would any place need more than one? And he’s right: It turns out that the restaurant actually needs eight of the blenders, not six. Intrigued, Kroc drives halfway across the country to take a look.

He finds a thriving family-friendly hamburger that fulfills customers’ orders almost instantly but lacks seating, waiters, flatware and silverware. Enthralled by this unconventional setup, Kroc presses an all-too-willing Maurice “Mac” McDonald (John Carroll Lynch) and the somewhat less voluble Dick McDonald (a bare-faced Nick Offerman, almost completely unrecognizable from the mustachioed character he played on Parks and Recreation) for the story behind their operation.

Kroc is captivated by the business and its potential for expansion. “McDonald’s can be the new American church,” Kroc rhapsodizes to the brothers. “And it ain’t just open on Sundays, boys.”

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