EVER wondered how McDonald’s ended up so, well, everywhere? This biographical drama explores just that as we follow one go-getter travelling salesman who would take a novelty small town restaurant and transform it into the fast-food conglomerate we all know today.
It’s 1954 and Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is eking out a living for him and his supportive wife Ethel (Laura Dern) selling milkshake-makers restaurant to restaurant. One day he receives an abnormally large order and decides to visit the folks that placed it.
He finds McDonald’s, a burger restaurant in San Bernadino run by the two so-named brothers Mac (John Caroll Lynch) and Dick (Nick Offerman) that has time-saving ways to make, prepare and serve the food to customers who soon come to embrace this new style of eating out.
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Seeing an opportunity for aggressive franchising, Ray signs a contract with the brothers to expand the business despite their worries over quality control. They soon discover just how ruthless and ambitious Ray will be in his endeavour to make McDonald’s a nationwide empire.
This is one of those films where the whole thing rests pretty much all on the shoulders of its leading man. If it didn’t have such a talented performer as Keaton then it might well have crumbled due to its lack of meat on the bones when dealing with its themes of betrayal, conceitedness and ambition above all and everyone who gets in the way.
But Keaton brings a slick charm and thematic depth to the role, somehow making us like the man for his drive as much as we hate him for his callous actions. We’re uncomfortably right along with Ray for his climb up the ladder as he bats away those who put their trust and love in him.
Peppy, brightly-coloured and well-acted enough to work just fine but, like the food its focused on, it’s short-lived satisfaction that isn’t exactly nourishing. It all ends up feeling a bit like the fast food-themed version of The Social Network but without the bite.