Review – I’ll Have Fries With That (“The Founder”)

A hamburger, fries, and a Coke for under a buck… .AND you got them in less than 30 seconds? Remember those days? I do. I may be dating myself here, but I grew up when the Golden Arches was a take-out place only. No drive-thru, no dining room, and no such thing as a Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, or even an apple pie! A menu as simple and clean as the current one at In ‘n’ Out.

But what about the guy that made Mickey-D’s the place that conquered the fast-food market? Ever wonder about him? We start in 1954 Illinois and a struggling milkshake machine traveling salesman named Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton). The man is desperate for a sale and so is his long-suffering wife (Laura Dern). Soon Ray gets a dream deal: eight machines at a little restaurant in San Bernardino, California called McDonald’s. More than curious, Ray takes a drive way out to the place and talks to the owners, Maurice and Dick McDonald (John Caroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) who have come up with an ingenious system: a fast-food, take-out only, burgers ‘n’ fries restaurant.

Mesmerized by their ingenuity, he wants in and talks of franchises across the U.S., but the brothers deny him his dream, due to the problems of quality control from store to store. Ray, not taking “no” for an answer, promises that he will personally oversee every store to the exacting specifications of the brothers wants. A contract is drawn up and Ray is off, popping up McDonald’s restaurants back in Illinois and other Eastern states. But while the McDonald bros. and other store owners are making their small cut of the business, Ray’s percentage isn’t enough to pay his mortgage.
Things change when two things happen: he meets the gorgeous (and married) Joan Smith (Linda Cardellini), wife of Rollie Smith (Patrick Smith), a McDonald’s financier. She’s found a cheaper way to sell the stores milkshakes with a powered mix, instead of using the more expensive ice cream. It’s love at first sight for the married Ray. The other big change is Ray finding Tastee-Freeze financial consultant Harry Sonneborn (B.J. Novak). Harry, feeling sorry for Ray’s money woes, tells him about a sneaky ploy: BUY all the land of the restaurants instead of leasing them! Cha-ching! That does the trick!
Ray is soon rolling out franchises everywhere, making tons of money and taking ALL the credit of the restaurants, from it’s signature “Golden Arches” architecture to its “spee-dee” style of food making. His ego explodes a much as his wallet as he divorces his wife for Joan, and then breeches his McDonald’s brothers contract in order to buy them out to build his McDonald’s corporation… a corporation that Ray invented without their permission! Ray’s greed and avarice peaks as this slimy rat bastard screws over the McDonald brothers so completely, that he even denies them any future royalties! What a Big Mac dick!
The film ends with archival footage and photographs of the real Ray Kroc and McDonald brothers and some sad (but true) follow-up details to this movie. Written almost like a free-flowing documentary by Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler, Turbo), don’t expect any snappy repertoire or Aaron Sorkin banter here. This is a “just the fact’s, ma’am” kinda movie, with a straight forward screenplay that delves into the downright theft of THE most profitable fast-food chains in the world. Directed by John Lee Hancock, who hasn’t been the best in directing with The Rookie and The Alamo; he just points ‘n’ shoots without any real flair, which leaves it up to the actors to drive the movie.

And drive they do! Keaton is simply marvelous as the man with the bold ideas and a twitch in his eye for money. He becomes the Charles Foster Kane of burgers, making us hate him (and love him for doing it). Another great turn is Offerman as Dick McDonald, the brother with all the great ideas. A restrained performance here than his usual outrageousness that really works. This ‘based on a true story’ isn’t as glamorous or stylized as Hidden Figures or All The President’s Men, but it does open your eyes to and shock you as to the history of that burger place.

Super Size Me (2001)


Do you want fries with that? If burgers ‘n’ fries are the American standard, then McDonald’s is the world-wide icon. Go anywhere around the globe, and chances are the Golden Arches will be there with variations on the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, and them fabulous fries. But the question has always come up: what if you ate there every single day? Well, here’s your answer!

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock decided on a crazy stunt based on an equally crazy lawsuit: Pelman vs. McDonald’s Corp., where two obese girls actually sued McDonald’s because they gained weight! The question arose, “CAN you gain weight by eating McDonald’s 24/7”? He made himself the guinea pig and filmed the experiment on his own body. But, he had his “rules” first: He must eat only Mickey-D’s food, period, for 30 days and get the ‘super-sized’ addition IF asked by the cashier. He must eat everything on the menu at least once and get enough exercise to boot.

Morgan starts with a doctors checkup to show that he’s in typical average shape and that he’s in no risk of heart or health issues. On February 1, Morgan begins his food odyssey with breakfast near his home in Manhattan while also walking the 5,000 steps (approximately two miles) per day done by the average American. Obviously, he’s never met me! Day 2 brings his (of nine) Super Size meals which happens to be sumptuous dinner of a double quarter pounder, Super Size french fries, and a giant 42-ounce Coke, which takes Morgan 22 minutes to eat. He experiences steadily increasing stomach discomfort during the process, and then goes outside and throws it all up in the parking lot. Yuck!

Things don’t improve either. After five days Spurlock gains 9.5 pounds and soon he finds himself experiencing depression, lethargy, and headaches that can only be relieved by eating a McDonald’s meal, much like an addict. By the end of the month, Morgan weighs about 210 pounds, an increase of about 24.5 pounds and lost muscle mass with increasing heart palpitations. Morgan barley makes it to the 30th day of his food experiment, peppering the film with modicums of humor and sharps digs at the McDonald’s corporation. In an epilogue, Morgan shows that it took 5 months to take off the weight and get back his health.

The upshot of the movie was amazing. Even though McDonald’s condemned the film for its inaccuracies and swayed opinions, people nevertheless responded to the film with critical response and took to the restaurant with their complaints. So much so, that McDonald’s pulled their ‘Super-Sized’ portions from their menu for good, and started their new ad campaign shortly after for their new ‘healthy’ menu that included salads, apple slices for the kids, and more. Spurlock, on the other hand, made a name for himself, and continued to make nutty doc’s like Where in the World is Osama Bin Lama? and The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.


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