Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Movie Review: THE FOUNDER

The Founder follows the real life story of Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) and how he went from a fading salesman in his late fifties to building the empire known as McDonald's, starting from a small town restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers.

Having loved Saving Mr. Banks, despite not having any kind of special emotional attachment to Mary Poppins, I was genuinely excited to see director John Lee Hancock bring this bigger than life story to the screen, supported by the great Micheal Keaton. Whilst it has plenty of grit and flare to spare for the audience, I found this to never really come together in a fascinating way and sadly always remained on the surface, which fortunately has enough to entertain at the least.

Keaton is once again on fire here and continues to strike with a series of performances that have made him come back from a faded star to now being one of the most respected A-listers. He has an innate sense of physicality with his characters that always adds a world of layers to them. He gives Ray ticks and ways of moving and evolves them through the film. It is subtle work by an actor that really makes the world of difference. The way his mouth twitches or how he becomes imposing in a scene, it is all brilliant work on top of a performance that is already very good when delivering the dialogue.

The rest of the cast unfortunately stays a little anonymous. Not even veterans like Laura Dern can manage to stick out. The only exceptions are Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch that, just like Keaton, are doing brilliant physical performance work. The contrast between how Ray carries himself and how the brothers do so made for some really interesting subtext and visual flare. The two of them also sold being affectionate brothers in a way that I have rarely experienced in movies. They really felt like genuine family to one another and their sweet and innocent dynamic was both a surprise and a great element of the film.

Where the film has faults is in building a climactic story and an insightful look at this real life events. There is an informative and quite interesting look at the chronology of the events, they are presented to you clearly and I did not get lost for a second as to what was going on. Yet, the film has a hard time building on what happens. It does not raise the stakes or intensify the drama. It always stays a little flat, leaving it all on the surface and often repeating the same dynamics over and over again between the characters without ever resolving them. From Ray and his wife to Ray and the brothers, there isn't really a depth into which the films can tap. It just presents a back and forth with the characters and leaves it hanging until a final scene of quick resolution.

The film also has some very sloppy editing. There are moments that actually stick out as good stuff like some of the montages of the McDonald's empire growing, and of Ray building the business, but for a good portion of the film there is some really bad stuff. Continuity mistakes start very early on and keep popping in and being disorientating. A lot of the flow of some scenes is unnecessarily cut with double the edits than the scenes require.

From a comedic perspective the film doesn't really make up its mind. It stays on the surface with everything and never really delves into the interesting comedic aspects. There are basic gags that don't really get out of the audience much more than a smile and because of that you are rarely ever clear if you are watching a drama or a comedy. That is also due to an honestly underwhelming score that, just like the editing, was really off-putting at times, especially early on.

Still, The Founder isn't a bad film, It offers enough of what it promises for viewers to be entertained for its duration even though there is much more that could have become of it if some with a more risky or quirky take on the material.

James' Score: 6/10

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