Reviewed by: Jeremy Landes
business ethics, fairness and integrity
In the film, Ray Kroc says business is war, and that if a competitor was drowning, he’d put a water hose down their mouth.
Eventually, Ray Kroc falsely claims that he founded McDonalds and built it from the ground up, himself. Ultimately, the innovative McDonald brothers are legally prevented from using their own last name on their restaurant signage, and Ray builds a new McDonald’s opposite theirs. The brothers are denied any royalties from the company they helped build, and their original restaurant closed in bankruptcy.
false promises / lack of integrity / lying
What is sin?
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
Ray Kroc divorces his faithful and long supportive 1st wife Ethel. Later, he divorces his 2nd wife Jane, and again remarries.
MONEY in the Bible
|Featuring:||Michael Keaton … Ray Kroc
Nick Offerman … Dick McDonald
John Carroll Lynch … Mac McDonald
Linda Cardellini … Joan Smith
B.J. Novak … Harry J. Sonneborn
Laura Dern … Ethel Kroc
Justin Randell Brooke … Fred Turner
Kate Kneeland … June Martino
Patrick Wilson … Rollie Smith
|Director:||John Lee Hancock—“The Blind Side” (2009), “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013), “The Alamo” (2004)|
|Producer:||Faliro House Productions
|Distributor:||The Weinstein Company|
Innovators Mac and Dick McDonald lose, while Ray Kroc’s driving ambition creates his billion-dollar empire
Worldwide, billions of people have eaten at McDonald’s, and millions have been employed at the wildly successful restaurant. So why did Ray Kroc, the acclaimed founder of the franchise, name the place McDonald’s? Director John Lee Hancock’s “The Founder” tells us how it happened in a compelling, dramatic way.
Michael Keaton, one of the most charismatic actors alive, plays Kroc—a 52-year-old traveling salesman from Illinois who fills his head with doctrines about positive thinking, while hunting for breakthrough success. When Ray learns an order has been placed for eight milkshake mixers from a single hamburger stand, Kroc drives thousands of miles to meet the owners and learn why. There, he experiences McDonald’s for the first time.
Part of the joy of the movie is watching the McDonald brothers, Mac and Dick (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) flourish while creating new methods to feed large crowds flocking to their restaurant. These brothers make a good team, and their system to exponentially reduce waiting time seems revolutionary to Kroc, who demands that they allow him to start franchises, imploring them, “Do it for America.”
We know from the outset that McDonald’s is going to eventually become a blockbuster with Kroc’s leadership—the questions include, “How did it grow so large from its tiny beginnings?” and “Who’s going to get hurt in the process?” Keaton shows us an entrepreneur who exudes confidence and is willing to tell any lie he deems necessary to succeed or exalt his own importance. Kroc believes his persistence will overcome others’ genius ideas or talent, and the story’s main conflict arises between the McDonald brothers and Kroc.
It’s natural to empathize with the brothers, who feel betrayed by their business partner’s devious schemes, but I still kept rooting for Kroc and wanted him to avoid one more business failure. There’s so much to despise about Kroc’s actions, including divorcing his wife of nearly forty years, but he’s a great salesman who believes in people, too. The movie presents an increasingly immoral character who we don’t see receiving retribution for his thefts, deception, and other tactics.
How can I know what is right and wrong? Answer
Proper business ethics for Christians: Honesty/Integrity, Trust in God, Fairness, Justice, Diligence and Generosity
Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
Incredibly, there are still details to admire about his vision of exponentially duplicating a family meeting/eating space, open seven days a week. In work, if you’re weak or make poor choices, your business may die fast. The movie doesn’t set out to demonize Kroc, but you may shake your head and wonder if you would make similar choices, if you were trying to build an empire that feeds approximately 1% of the world daily.
I recommend “The Founder” only to Christians who have a strong moral compass and enjoy having a good conversation afterward about business ethics. The film contains enough bad language (see details below) to nearly earn an R-rating. There’s no violence, and the sexual content is mild, although there’s flirting between people married to others.
Violence: None / Profanity: Heavy—G*d d*mn (3), Christ (10), h*ll (8), d*mn (4), f***ing (1), s-word (2), S.O.B. (3) / Sex/Nudity: Mild—a little cleavage on one woman, brief discussion about carhops having to avoid gropes from customers, glimpse of a young couple in a car making out.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…layer by layer, this dumbfounding movie devises its magical recipe, and dares us to resist it: ketchup, mustard, two slices of pickle, and hold the irony. Delicious.
—Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
…Sturdily directed… shrewd script… “The Founder” moves briskly and assuredly from one well-constructed scene to the next…
—Justin Chang, Variety
…Michael Keaton makes feast out of Ray Kroc, McDonald's saga… “The Founder” becomes a cautionary tale about an idea, and a driven man, desperate to avoid becoming just another Loman on the totem pole of American enterprise. …
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…fascinating… moves at a nice clip… an insightful look at the history of an iconic institution that doubles as a cautionary tale. …“The Founder” is a Happy Meal with some nice, needed bite.
—Brian Truitt, USA Today
…absorbing… Fascinating, subtle film on the machinations of Ray Kroc, the ruthless, insecure man who made a burger joint an empire and sold out its originators… [4/5]
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…This well-acted account of the businessman who built McDonald's is a tasty snack but could have done with some supersizing. …[3/5]
—Tom Huddleston, Time Out
…As the personification of evil, Keaton is sublime. We get the clear sense that the aging Ray Kroc, facing the end of his days as a very modest success, seized upon a great opportunity and then tore apart any who stood in his way to becoming a monstrous success. But quietly and, apparently, politely…
—Peter A. Martin, Dallas Film Now
…a wishy-washy take on both Kroc and McDonald's itself, which tries to play off its timidity as fairness, balance or some such. In fact, it plays more like a film that can't make up its mind whether it wants to be an exposé of Kroc's scheming, Cheese Burglar venality or a sly celebration of his capitalist chutzpah. …
—Leslie Felperin, Variety