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John Lee Hancock
Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, Linda Cardellini
Writing Credits:
Robert Siegel

The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 115 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 4/18/2017

• Press Conference
• Featurette Gallery
• Previews
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Founder [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 25, 2017)

Back in 2014, Michael Keaton enjoyed a nice career revival via his role in the Best Picture-winning Birdman, and he starred in another Academy Award champion via 2015’s Spotlight. Though not as big a critical hit as those two, 2016’s The Founder added another well-received piece to his filmography.

Set in 1954, we meet Ray Kroc (Keaton), a salesman with a reputation as someone who’ll hustle any product to make a buck. When he decides to sell milkshake makers, Ray meets Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch), the California-based purveyors of a hamburger stand that bears their name.

Impressed by their quick-service model, Ray pushes the brothers to allow him to franchise McDonald’s. We follow Ray’s efforts to develop the McDonald’s brand along with controversies and personal issues that arise along the way.

When I first heard about The Founder, I thought it enjoyed Oscar potential. Some of that stemmed from Keaton’s recent hot streak, but the material itself boasted that “award-bait” feel.

And then I saw that John Lee Hancock directed the movie. I don’t intend that as an insult to Hancock, who has proven himself to be a perfectly able filmmaker with efforts such as Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side.

However, Hancock never digs too deep beneath the surface of his subjects. When I reviewed Blind Side, I called it “a pleasant and effective flick that delivers an uplifting message in an entertaining manner”. When I wrote up Banks, I referred to it as “an enjoyable but insubstantial experience”.

Similar thoughts apply to Founder - except for the uplifting part, that is. While the movie tells a tale of determination and ingenuity that seems suitable for the “triumph of the human spirit” theme, but the lead presents a more complicated character than that.

Given the movie’s title, I feared it’d be little more than a puff piece that celebrated the greatness of Ray Kroc. While I can’t claim to know a ton about the history of McDonald’s, I knew Kroc didn’t actually found the corporation, so I worried that the movie would present rampant leaps of truth.

And the movie does stretch reality at times, but it certainly doesn’t make Kroc out to be a hero. As portrayed here, we see the good and the bad, as we view how McDonald’s never would’ve left San Bernardino without Kroc’s ambition and vision, but we also observe the way he looks out for number one and leaves charred corpses in his wake.

Given the movie’s willingness to portray various side of Kroc’s character, Hancock’s inability to dig deeper becomes a disappointment. Like prior Hancock films, Founder provides solid entertainment, but it never gets to the heart of its subject as well as I’d like.

Still, even with this semi-superficial approach, the film does create a pretty enjoyable ride. Because McDonald’s remains so omnipresent in our lives, I appreciate the view of the corporation’s origins and development, and the movie delivers this information in a compelling manner.

Like all Hancock efforts, Founder remains thoroughly professional, and the cast give it a layer of talent. I can’t claim Keaton got deprived of Oscar love, but he does fine in the role, as he shows both the charm and the duplicity of the role. Offerman and Lynch also manage to evoke the heart of the company’s actual founders.

In the end, I’m glad I watched The Founder, as it does enough to offer an enjoyable movie. It simply lacks the insight and spark to become more than general cinematic entertainment.

Footnote: if you listen through the end credits, you’ll hear audio recordings of the real Ray Kroc until the 1:50:25 point.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

The Founder appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The visuals held up fairly well.

Sharpness looked appropriate. Some interiors showed a smidgen of softness, but usually the image seemed accurate and concise. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes or source flaws.

In terms of colors, the movie opted for orange and teal, though it kept these subdued, so they didn’t go crazy. The low-key palette seemed satisfactory. Blacks were pretty dark and tight, and low-light shots displayed reasonable clarity. While not “A”-level, the visuals appeared positive.

I wouldn’t anticipate fireworks from the audio for a character piece like Founder, and its DTS-HD MA 5.1 track gave me the expected subdued affair. Music became the most prominent aspect of the soundfield, as the score used the five channels fairly well.

Effects had less to do. Ambience ruled the day, so not much more gave the track pop. This seemed appropriate, though, as the chatty flick didn’t come with obvious opportunities for sonic sizzle.

Audio quality appeared fine. Music was full and rich, while effects came across with appropriate accuracy, even if they lacked much punch due to a lack of ambition. Speech came across as distinctive and concise. Nothing here excelled but the soundtrack fit the material.

Under , we get a collection of five featurettes: “The Story Behind the Story” (4:32), “Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc” (3:08), “The McDonald Brothers” (4:01), “The Production Design” (7:06) and “Building McDonald’s: Time Lapse Video” (1:21). Across the clips, we hear from writer Robert Siegel, producers Aaron Ryder and Don Handfield, director John Lee Hancock, Dick McDonald’s grandson Jason French, production designer Michael Corenblith, and actors Michael Keaton, Linda Cardellini, John Carroll Lynch, BJ Novak, Nick Offerman, Patrick Wilson, and Laura Dern.

We get notes about the source material and its path to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, set design and period details. Of the different pieces, “Production Design” offers the most substantial information, though the others throw out decent details as well. Most seem a bit promotional, though, so outside of “Design”, don’t expect a lot of depth.

During a 37-minute, 44-second Press Conference, we hear from Hancock, Keaton, Handfield, Offerman, Dern, Ryder, French, Siegel, Dick McDonald’s grandson Corey French, and producer Jeremy Renner. The conference looks at the project’s roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, and design topics.

Q&As tend to be fairly superficial, and I can’t claim this one does a lot to deviate from that trend. While we get a smattering of insights, there’s not a ton of substance on display here.

The disc opens with ads for Lion and Sing Street. No trailer for The Founder appears here.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Founder. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

At times, The Founder provides a compelling vision of how the global behemoth known as McDonald’s came to be. However, the movie lacks great insight, so it offers entertainment without much real substance. The Blu-ray brings us very good picture with acceptable audio and decent supplements. Founder works well enough to merit a viewing but it never quite hits its mark.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8333 Stars Number of Votes: 6
3 3:
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