Monday, January 09, 2017

THE FOUNDER -- My review

I saw THE FOUNDER at a WGA screening Friday night and it drew a rather large crowd. But that’s understandable. It was a movie about someone over fifty who was still working.

THE FOUNDER was the story of Ray Kroc who turned a tiny local hamburger stand into the McDonalds behemoth. In short, it was movie about two schmeggie brothers who found a way to build a better mousetrap and the hustler/con man/capitalist who ran with it, took good ideas from other people, and created an empire built on glitz and malnutrition, all the while stealing another man’s wife. It’s certainly a tale of our time. Since they took lots of liberty with the facts they should have just gone all the way and had Ray Kroc run for president and win.

Yes, the McDonald brothers came up with an ingenious assembly line system for turning out burgers and fries at a much faster rate than competitors. And they devised the Golden Arches and the notion that they should cater to families and not the cast of GREASE. But without Ray Kroc there’s no Ronald McDonald and McRibs. So who contributed more to society?
Michael Keaton proved once again that he has the presence and charisma to be a movie star. He absolutely carried this film. And even though he played a douchebag you still couldn’t take your eyes off him. I just imagine say Richard Gere playing the part. The lights would come on after a screening and it would look like a scene from Jonestown with everybody out cold. But Keaton keeps you watching and wondering what stunt he’ll do next.

Meanwhile, Laura Dern has the most thankless role maybe in the history of cinema.  

One way the movie failed for me was in the “power of suggestion” department. How many times have you seen a movie where they’re eating a scrumptious meal and the film ends and you can’t wait to get your own bowl of pasta, or thick steak? I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to go to McDonalds when THE FOUNDER ended. Even after the scene early in the movie when Michael Keaton first encounters McDonalds. He gazes at people climaxing while eating 15 cent burgers. He himself then takes a bite into one and later tells the McDonald brothers that it was the greatest hamburger he’d ever eaten. That’s like someone saying 2 BROKE GIRLS is the greatest sitcom they’ve ever seen. My salivary glands sure weren't firing. 

In short, THE FOUNDER is a very cynical film – achieving the American Dream by squeezing out the originators and ultimately taking credit for their ideas. In stories of this sort you kind of expect the scoundrel to get his comeuppance. But in real life that doesn’t always happen. Ray Kroc gets away with everything. Like I said, a tale of our times. The real title should be THE HAMBURGLAR.

On another note:  If you haven't checked out my new podcast yet, you can find it by clicking here.  Thanks for listening if in fact you did.  

56 comments :

Wendy M. Grossman said...

The hungriest I ever was after a movie was after seeing Ang Lee's DIM SUM. As it happened, the theater (the Edinburgh Filmhouse) was across the street from a Chinese restaurant, and people just flooded over to it.

wg

rockgolf said...

Friday question: Has Trump temper tantrum guaranteed Meryl Streep another Oscar?

Paul Duca said...

One interesting thing about Ray Kroc...in the 70's he and his wife had a first class butler/factotum handling their domestic affairs. Only his terminal illness ended his service. They knew him as Edward Tanner, but it turns out he had a pen name--Patrick Dennis, creator of AUNTIE MAME.

Glenn said...

I'm a big Keaton fan so I want to see this. Sadly, Ken, it seems to be the way things have been for too long. Apparently, for a lot of people, the "American Dream" can only happen if everyone around them has their own personal American nightmare.

I'd like to do some research to find out which great achievement/invention/creation of the last 100 years was NOT built by screwing someone over in a big way.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

The power of suggestion concept reminds me of the first IRON MAN film. What Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark did during that press conference scene made me downright excited to find the nearest burger joint. And I'm one who tries hard to eat healthy on a daily basis, avoiding red meat and fast food like a plague.

Mike said...

Wot - no Globes review?

Ken Levine said...

No Golden Globes review. First off, I couldn't care less about the Golden Globes. And last night I was doing a book reading and didn't see them.

blinky said...

OMG! The Golden Globes was a good show, really! OK, 30 minutes of the 3 hours was good but whose counting?

The opening dance number was better than any Oscar opening number since Billy Crystal looked like Billy Crystal. They has 11 from Strangers Things rapping. Very clever number!

There were riveting performances as star after star, with a straight face, thanked the Foreign Press for the honor of the award.

It was worth it just to see an almost unrecognizable Nicole Kidman looking like a Face-Lift-Gone-Bad blow up doll. In fact all the women seemed to have gone for the shiny, plastic face look.

And finally getting to see Meryl Streep's last public performance before she is put into Trumps re-education Tweet Camp on the Mexican border.

Brian said...

Whatttttttttttt..... No Golden Globes review ? But but but but but ...... You you you promised... What do we do now?

Anonymous said...

Love Michael Keaton. Can't wait to see this flick. The last movie that made me leave the theater hungry was Big Night with Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci.Janice B.

Peter said...

Ken, there is a question about Meryl Streep's Oscar bid above.

My own question about Meryl is - why does she pull off stunts like this nearing Oscar. Once you had her referring to Walt Disney's anti-Semite past at a dinner honoring Emma Thompson to sabotage her chance. Then another time Susan Sarandon lashed out at her publicity machine for spreading lies about Susan's family troubles.

Meryl is the greatest actress but how does Hollywood view her and underhand tactics? You yourself sounded bored about her Oscar nominations during an Oscar review.

gottacook said...

wg - Do you mean Wayne Wang's Dim Sum, or do you mean Ang Lee's Eat Drink Man Woman? I've seen the latter (and still have it on VHS) and it was quite enjoyable for more reasons than just the cooking.

Rory W said...

Apropos of nothing (or, here's a Friday question), what did you think of Michael Schur's comments at a recent press conference talking about "The Good Place"?

"A show that's extremely structured [like "The Good Place"] I think benefits from the network structure because it forces you, as a writer, to think about act breaks and to think about things that every writer back to the Greeks did, which was what's the main character going through, what are the obstacles, what's the arc of this thing.

It's not that people don't do those on streaming services, but if you watch certain shows on streaming services, it's like the fish bowl. The fish expands to the size of the fish bowl. And I've watched certain shows on certain streaming services where I thought, man, give me, like, two hours with an editor, and I will knock 15 minutes out of this sucker, and it'll probably be better.

It's a little bit of a trap. You have to be extremely self‑regulating to maintain the sense of structure that I was taught by [Office developer] Greg Daniels and that I've grown up with. I actually fear a little bit what would happen if I took a show like this to a different medium, because I might go, 'Ohhh, this works really well at 39 minutes,' or something, and it might not. I might be wrong.

Commercials are a pain in the butt, and the snipes [ads] that come up at the bottom of the screen for other shows are a pain in the butt. And there is not a single episode of this show that I think was absolutely the best it could possibly be at 21 minutes and 30 seconds.

But goddamn it, it makes you hone the story, and it makes you hone the way you write, and it's a good feeling to me to leave moments and jokes and pieces of a story on the cutting room floor, because if I'm cutting things I like, it means everything that's in is something I liked even more."

http://www.vox.com/culture/2017/1/9/14202016/netflix-comedy-good-place, but

ChipO said...

I'm glad I listened to pod #1 prior to watching the Golden Globs. To tease the remaining five people who have not listened to pod #1, you provide wonderful insight into the award and the process.
I wonder though (though maybe you resolved this while I was accelerating on the elliptical) is GG attendance required in order to maintain an influential presence as the Oscar ballots are still out?
Thanks,

bumfromph said...

The perfect double-feature: THE FOUNDER followed by SUPER SIZE ME

Wendy M. Grossman said...

gottacook: Oops! The Wayne Wang DIM SUM. Ravenous.

wg

MikeN said...

I'll bite. What does Trump empire have to do with malnutrition?

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Ken, just gotta share: it's interesting you mention "power of suggestion." Because re M*A*S*H, EVERY time I see the classic "Adam's Ribs" episode (a fairly early episode that may have been done before you joined the crew there), I've just got to go out for some barbecue the next day. EVERY time I see one of Jamie Farr's Packo's episodes, I've just gotta go out for some Chicago hot dogs the next day. And although it's not entirely as powerful, almost every time I see the "side of beef" episode, I want to go out for steak the next day.

For whatever reason, the writers, cast and crew of M*A*S*H were, and are, really good at making me hungry. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Re: Meryl Streep is the greatest actress
Sorry but on her best day, she is not close to Helen Mirren.

And for the record Michael Keaton is a fact-out better actor than multiple Oscar winner Tom Hanks.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous Paul Duca said...
One interesting thing about Ray Kroc...in the 70's he and his wife had a first class butler/factotum handling their domestic affairs. Only his terminal illness ended his service. They knew him as Edward Tanner, but it turns out he had a pen name--Patrick Dennis, creator of AUNTIE MAME."


Since the fact that Ray Croc died without ever learning that the man who laid out his suits for him and served him his meals (Which I bet were not McDonald's "Food") had written Auntie Mame and Little Me and so many other great novels, and had been the first author ever to have three books on the New York Times best seller lists at the same time, is to me the only interesting thing about Croc, my first and only question is, is any of that in the movie? Does someone play the wonderful Edward Everett Tanner III? About Croc I could care less. Tanner is one of my idols, and the single largest influence on my own novels. (As more than one critic has noted.)

D. McEwan said...

"MikeN said...
I'll bite. What does Trump empire have to do with malnutrition?"


Folks living on Social Security will find out exactly what Trumputin has to do with malnutrition in about a year, if Trumputin doesn't get us all nuked first.

But you don't have to wait to find out. Just dine at Trump Grill, and learn immediately what Trumputin has to do with malnutrition. Or you can let Vanity Fair save you the bad dining experience.

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/trump-grill-review

Stu West said...

No fair slamming Richard Gere! He played a scumbag in CHICAGO and I couldn't keep my eyes off him.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who doesn't leave a mixed legacy, isn't leaving much of a legacy.

Scoundrel that Kroc surely was, he also created thousands of millionaire franchisees. His restaurants have clean bathrooms. And the Egg McMuffin is edible.

But the rest of the food sucks.

BluePedal said...

I love your request for us listeners to "Like me ...wherever you have to like me"

2017

Diane D said...

The winners at the Golden Globes certainly appeared to take them seriously. And many of the winners will be the same ones who win Oscars. Granted, the voting members are 93 journalists, whereas the voting members of the Academy are peers, but I still don't see why they should be so disrespected. Viola Davis won for Fences, and she was amazing! Her acceptance speech was also elegant and touching. There were many African American winners, and other ethnicities. I wonder how the Oscars and Emmys will do on that score this year.

Professor hjr said...

A Friday question: Older shows now in common reruns such as "M*A*S*H" or "Cheers" were produced for about half as many commercial minutes per hour as are now seen on TV. And those shows also had much longer opening credits and theme songs unlike new shows that more commonly incorporate the opening credits into the show itself. Why can't the rerun syndicators cut the openings and put reproduced opening credits into the start of the show and thereby cut less of the actual show content? Even when I don't recall details of an old program, it is still disconcerting when they've clearly cut a joke mid-revelopment or omitted important plot points.

Donald Benson said...

Immediately thought of the book "Men of Tomorrow", about the birth of the superhero comic book industry. There too you had young innovators ripped off by the shrewd promoter, specifically the creators of Superman (they finally got creator credit and some money decades later, when major modern creators publicly shamed Warner on the eve of the "Superman" movie).

Then you have Bill Gates, who bought an existing software and leased it to IBM, then parlayed it into an empire. And Columbia Studios, which kept the Three Stooges on flat paychecks when they made the shorts and froze them out of the massive TV sales. And Sears, which famously ripped off the inventor of a spectacularly popular wrench ...

High concept idea: Moguls who built their fortunes and personal fame on early slick dealings with actual innovators and entrepreneurs. They gather for a secret summit when, one by one, their empires and reputations are brought down by scrappy little guys with the imagination and inventive skills they always claimed but actually lack. Can they live up to their PR when it's literally life or death?

Anonymous said...

Haven't seen the movie yet, but many people miss the point about how McDonalds became an empire.
The food wasn't haute cuisine but it was decent, tasty, but most of all predictable and uniform. That was a huge deal in the 1950's and 1960's when dining out was a much bigger enterprise than it is today. People going out did't have that many options to choose form and they weren't always dependable. When you were traveling or on vacation you had no idea what restaurants in a strange place were like. Put that together with baby boomer kids who wanted predictability in their food and you had McDonalds.
By the 1970's and beyond there were other franchises, more information, and more discerning tastes.
But people wanted predictable decent food in the post war era and McDonalds was the first to really do that.

AAllen said...

I swear particular restaurants' food has changed noticeably in my lifetime, and I'm only 49 years old. Maybe McDonald's really did taste that good back then, before they froze their patties.

YEKIMI said...

His restaurants have clean bathrooms.

Really? I've been in some McDonald's bathrooms that make the restroom in the movie "Trainspotting" look like a one in a 5 star hotel after it's had a squad of Martha Stewarts come in on a cleaning spree.

Peter said...

I'm delighted that you say Michael Keaton is great in this. I'm a huge fan of his. During the "quiet" years in his career I kept hoping he'd have a comeback. And thanks to Birdman, Spotlight and also choice supporting roles in some high profile films like Robocop, he's back in a big way. I can't wait to see The Founder. 

I hope that the kids and teens who saw the ridiculous mess that was Batman v Superman seek out the Keaton Batman movies to see the definitive Batman.

Enzo Hernandez said...

In stories of this sort you kind of expect the scoundrel to get his comeuppance, so you are saying the movie never mentioned, Ray Kroc's owning of the dreadful San Diego Padres!

D. McEwan said...

"Diane D said...
The winners at the Golden Globes certainly appeared to take them seriously. And many of the winners will be the same ones who win Oscars. Granted, the voting members are 93 journalists,..."


Yes, OF COURSE the winners take them seriously. Most show biz folks will take ANYONE honoring them seriously. But no one else should. Those 93 voters are not "Journalists"; they're waiters and parking valets calling themselves "Journalists." And, as we all know, you CAN buy a Golden Globe. Next time you're tempted to take this fake award seriously, remember two words: "Pia Zadora."

"Anonymous said...
Haven't seen the movie yet, but many people miss the point about how McDonalds became an empire. The food wasn't haute cuisine but it was decent, tasty, but most of all predictable and uniform. That was a huge deal in the 1950's and 1960's when dining out was a much bigger enterprise than it is today. People going out did't have that many options to choose form and they weren't always dependable. When you were traveling or on vacation you had no idea what restaurants in a strange place were like. Put that together with baby boomer kids who wanted predictability in their food and you had McDonalds. By the 1970's and beyond there were other franchises, more information, and more discerning tastes. But people wanted predictable decent food in the post war era and McDonalds was the first to really do that."


How long have you worked for McDonald's, Mr. Anonymous? Or are you actually on the Board of Directors? McDonald's serves "Decent Food." That was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Schmeggie...just looked it up.

Man Yiddish words are brutal. They never seem to translate into something like, "a real stand up guy who brings a smile to everyone's face". No, they mainly seem to combine some type of genitalia metaphor with a debilitating personal judgment. Other languages are satisfied with one half of that insult equation.

Yiddish: The Ultimate Fighting Championship of interpersonal communication.

Sean

Barry Traylor said...

Since the Sundance Channel has been running 12 episodes of MASH every Monday I have been binging on it. As it has been awhile since I have watched the show I have been having a ball watching them again. What a joy watching Harry Morgan play Colonel Potter. Watched The Merchant of Korea last night and saw you and David Isaacs are in the credits as Story Editors. So my Friday question is just what does a Story Editor do?

Peter said...

To Anonymous,

Meryl Streep is the best. Helen Mirren and other overrated British trash are on account of media grovelling at everything British. Anyone who acts in the role of queen is the best for these imperialist sods.

Anonymous said...

@Peter
Helen Mirren has been playing roles on stage and in the movies for 40 years, some of them that Meryl Streep could never do.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Yes, McDonald's provided reliability and predictability for travelers who didn't want to take a chance on unfamiliar cuisine, especially with kids to feed. But Howard Johnson had already been doing that for years (remember those orange roofs?) with a varied menu and table service. The fried clams were a highlight of our annual family pilgrimage from New Jersey to Baltimore. I never understood the appeal of McDonald and its imitators, unless maybe it was the price. Perhaps the movie will offer a clue.

As for the Streep/Mirren controversy, Dame Helen offered the best assessment of the year just ended: "2016 has been a big pile of shit." So where is her tweet from Trumputin? (Thanks, Mr. McEwan, I plan to steal that.)

Peter said...

British actors are pompous and conceited; because they and the media believe that, it's stage acting in Shakespearean crap which is superior to movies.

What's so inferior about movie acting or for that matter TV acting?

Can Helen Mirren do the brilliant portrayal as an Australian (can she do any accent at all apart from British and American?) like Meryl Streep did in "Cry in the dark"? Or that matchless performance of "Doubt"?


P.S.: I agree with you that Michael Keaton is better than Tom Hanks. Almost all actors are :)

David said...

I saw "The Founder" last night, and agree with nearly all of Ken's review. The movie covers 1954-1961, so no Patrick Dennis, no Padres. Keaton is quite good, as is most of the supporting cast, especially Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers, and Linda Cardellini, whom I love in everything.

I knew much of the story going in, thanks to the Mark Knopfler song "Boom, Like That." http://bit.ly/2iwgLB1 Apparently, that was also the inspiration of the film's producer, who then spent a decade trying to get the movie made.

I predict people who go to see this film will be split between those who root for Kroc and those, even knowing the outcome, who root for the brothers. Count me among the latter: I guess, if it's one or the other, I'd rather be a good person than a success.

Diane D said...

You're probably right, D McEwan, but I would point out that many terrific actors are also waiters and parking attendants "calling themselves actors." It's just about as hard to become a journalist with The New York Times as it is to make it big as an actor. As far as the bribing, again, I would point out that many of the winners are the same as the Oscar winners, and Pia Zadora was a long time ago. But, you are in the business, and Ken should surely know, so I will concede that I am probably wrong to try to think well of anyone, or anything.

D. McEwan said...

"Peter said...
To Anonymous,
Meryl Streep is the best. Helen Mirren and other overrated British trash are on account of media grovelling at everything British. Anyone who acts in the role of queen is the best for these imperialist sods.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@Peter
Helen Mirren has been playing roles on stage and in the movies for 40 years, some of them that Meryl Streep could never do."


I can settle this excruciatingly stupid, pointless argument easily. Meryl and Helen are BOTH great actresses, and also friends. If they were both here, they'd both tell both of you to quit this insane squabbling.

"Peter said...
British actors are pompous and conceited"


You know personally a lot of British actors? I know many of both British and America actors, and I find in general British actors to be warm, generous, and lovely people. On average, American actors are far more likely to be conceited than British actors, but the best seldom are. Your bigoted xenophobia is showing.

"Buttermilk Sky said...
So where is her tweet from Trumputin? (Thanks, Mr. McEwan, I plan to steal that.)"

PLEASE
do! I want everyone calling the Orange Fascist Tool of the Russians "Trumputin." He's America's Rasputin, as well as Putin's agent and butt buddy.

"David said...
The movie covers 1954-1961, so no Patrick Dennis,"


Thanks. Now I can skip the movie altogether.

Doug said...

Kroc was a jerk (putting it mildly); but without the McDonald's money, the Padres would have opened the 1974 season as the third Washington Nationals franchise. I always have a small soft spot for the man.

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Doug makes a good point. People can scream and yell all they want, but the truth is Kroc (like a lot of other very inventive, very ruthless people) left a really mixed legacy. I don't see why people can't see the good along with the bad, which "The Founder" appears to do a good job of portraying. Can't wait to see it, along with Scorsese's "Silence."

Peter said...

D. McEwan.

Do you personally know me? Then what gives you the right to call me bigoted and xenophobic?

I find it excruciatingly stupid that you are so obsessive that you are answering to everyones' comment.

Someone I admire from their comments - Miss Diane.D gave her view. She is one of the long time readers, surely she has the right to her opinion, just like me. But for every comment you have to reply. Put down others pompously.

I replied to a person who never had the guts to leave his name. If it was some long time reader, I wouldn't have replied. He was the one who butted in with a reply to my comment in the first place.

I did agree that Michael Keaton was better than "American saint" Tom Hanks. If I was xenophobic, I wouldn't have dissed him, would I ?

Desist from calling others names and indulging in online bullying. Just publish your comment and stop poking your nose into others' comments.




Greg Ehrbar said...

Re D McEwan: "Most show biz folks will take ANYONE honoring them seriously."

Gotta share this story. My kids love it. I had a grandfather who was an egomaniac (and not a very nice man). He owned a local, short-lived furniture store, wrote a column on "kern" collection for a free retired condo owner's newspaper and therefore was the greatest man that ever lived.

He belonged to many clubs and organizations filled with people who "loved him." One such organization gave him an expensive-looking carved mahogany award. I forget what it was honoring him for, but it was a carved hand with the naughty finger pointing up.

My brother and I laughed until we couldn't breathe and he was infuriated. He didn't know what it meant and he insisted it was an "honah!" My dad, smiling quietly to himself, told us to stop, but everyone except my grandfather seemed to get the bizarre nature of this award -- if it meant what it was supposed to mean, why was the recipient clueless about it? Surely he had used the gesture. In fact, surely he did.

Anyway, he's long gone but the comedy gold lives on.

Diane D said...

Peter
D. McEwan does seem to be on the warpath today, doesn't he? Ha!

Peter said...

Miss Diane D,

Yes ma'am :)

D. McEwan said...

"Peter said...
D. McEwan.
Do you personally know me? Then what gives you the right to call me bigoted and xenophobic?"


The First Amendment. And when you post xenophobic comments, people are going to notice your xenophobia

"I find it excruciatingly stupid that you are so obsessive that you are answering to everyones' comment"

There are 47 comments posted here. I answered 8 of them (and only 4 of them negatively, that's including this comment). You're not too swift with math.

"I did agree that Michael Keaton was better than "American saint" Tom Hanks. If I was xenophobic, I wouldn't have dissed him, would I ?"

That makes zero sense. You apparently have an even looser grasp of the meaning of "Xenophobic" than you have of math or the meaning of "Everyone's". BTW, I am very much a "long-time reader." In fact, it's been a decade now since the time Ken posted a "Guest Blog" post by me. Ten years of reading everyone of Ken's posts except the baseball ones.

Yes, your opponent in the idiotic Meryl v Helen "Debate" should have given his or her name, but you were both being horse's asses.

"Desist from calling others names and indulging in online bullying. Just publish your comment and stop poking your nose into others' comments."

On what planet do I take orders from you? Not on Earth.

Greg Ehrbar, funny story!

"Anonymous Diane D said...
Peter
D. McEwan does seem to be on the warpath today, doesn't he? Ha!"


Only with you two and "Anonymous". I'm having pleasant exchanges with the pleasant people.

Peter said...

D. McEwan,

Ha Ha Ha Haaa.... Thanks for exposing yourself as an uncultured lout with abuses and spewing venom.

Just could have said you are a long time reader. But referencing that you posted a blog ten years ago, clutching onto to some credibility??? or some sort of excuse for your unhinged rant???

Learn how to behave in a public forum man. Move on.... Get a life.

Ken Levine said...

Pete and Doug -- enough. Play nice. Time for me to blow the whistle on this debate. Thank you both for understanding.

Diane D said...

D McEwan
I don't think I've said anything unpleasant. I didn't even really disagree with you. I did say you seemed to be on the warpath today.. I usually enjoy reading your comments. Don't be so angry. This is a fun place to discuss things, and since you are an actor, you usually have an interesting perspective.

Ken is probably about ready to shut this conversation down so let's end it on a positive note.

Diane D said...

Sorry, Ken
I didn't see that you had already stopped it.

D. McEwan said...

"Peter said...
Just could have said you are a long time reader. But referencing that you posted a blog ten years ago, clutching onto to some credibility??"


i was not referring to MY blog, i was referring to when I was invited to post a guest piece on THIS blog.

Ken, you gotta admit, it's been a long time since I've had a good fight here.

Ken Levine said...

Yes, Doug, but you're denying the readers the lovable hilarious side of you. :)

D. McEwan said...

I think I may be sitting on that side of me.