The next time you take a big bite of a McDonald’s
hamburger, you may wonder if a slice of ethics would have made it tastier. On
the other hand, perhaps an overemphasis on fair business practice may have
never turned McDonald’s into a multi-billion dollar franchise.
Director John Lee Hancock narrates the success story
of Ray Kroc by harping on the magic of “persistence”. Every time a door is slammed on the face of
salesman Ray Kroc, he keeps himself going by endlessly listening to
motivational speeches on persistence. It’s the only route to realising one’s
What Ray Kroc covets at first glance, he’ll pursue and
grab. It doesn’t matter whether he’s eyeing an innovative outlet created by the
McDonald brothers or he’s smitten by Joan, the wife of a business associate.
Sympathies naturally veer towards Mac and Dick
McDonald, the two who visualised and realised the concept of a clean, family
outlet that’s uncompromising on quality. In fact when Ray Kroc, to whom they’ve
shown their business model with unstinted openness, offers them the dream of a
countrywide franchise, Dick’s only worry is, what about quality control? The
brothers had innovation and integrity on their side but Ray Kroc had single-minded
persistence where his conscience never figured. It was Kroc’s never-give-up approach
that took McDonald’s from one outlet in Southern California to the rest of the
The takeover of somebody else’s name and off-the-contract
promises that are easily broken, are commonplace in the corporate world. But if
you’re not put off by the lack of ethics, it’s hugely because of Michael
Keaton’s compelling act as Ray Kroc. He’s so blatant about what he wants that
he just doesn’t seem sneaky. That goes even for Joan from the moment he first
spots her, never mind if her husband is around.
Ray Kroc is not the kind of man you should have a
handshake or any kind of deal with. First wife Ethel would agree with that.
But as a successful man who sold the familiar golden
arch to the whole world, Ray Kroc’s story is worth a watch.
For a film that lays out the ways of the corporate
world, The Founder gets a 3*
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Columnist, Critic & Author