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The Founder: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

The Founder (2016) movie poster The Founder

Theatrical Release: December 7, 2016 / Running Time: 115 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: John Lee Hancock / Writer: Robert Siegel

Cast: Michael Keaton (Ray Kroc), Nick Offerman (Dick McDonald), John Carroll Lynch (Mac McDonald), Linda Cardellini (Joan Smith), B.J. Novak (Harry J. Sonneborn), Laura Dern (Ethel Kroc), Justin Randall Brooke (Fred Turner), Kate Kneeland (June Martino), Patrick Wilson (Rollie Smith), Griff Furst (Jim Zien), Wilbur Fitzgerald (Jerry Cullen), David de Vries (Jack Horford), Andrew Benator (Leonard Rosenblatt), Cara Mantella (Myra Rosenblatt)

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The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, who founded the first and biggest fast food empire, McDonald's. The film opens in 1954, when Kroc (Michael Keaton) is making passionate sales pitches to a drive-in owner for mixing machines that can make five milkshakes at the same time.
The traveling salesman is rebuffed repeatedly aside from one San Bernadino establishment that orders eight of the machines unseen.

Kroc takes a visit to that burger joint, which is run by brothers Mac (John Carroll Lynch) and Dick McDonald (Nick Offerman), and is blown away by both the speed of the service and the quality of the food. The McDonald brothers have expedited food ordering with a pared-down menu and efficient preparation system. The place is popular and filled with satisfied customers.

Kroc pitches an idea for the brothers to franchise their hot spot. They resist, having already tried that and failed. The siblings, who explain in detail to Kroc how their model evolved to its current state, are not interested in making money by letting their name get dragged down by subpar service in locations they can't personally oversee. But Kroc tells them to do it for America and somehow the McDonalds agree, with Kroc seeing to the launch of a number of the restaurants with Dick's distinctive golden arch design throughout the Midwest.

"The Founder" stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the "founder" of McDonald's restaurants.

The working relationship between Kroc and the brothers is quickly and increasingly strained. He needs them to sign off on any changes he wishes to make. They bristle at most of his ideas (which aren't always really his) like making milkshakes from powder packets. To get the business going, Kroc has to secretly mortgage his home, which distresses his wife (Laura Dern) when she later learns about it. He also faces resistance from banks, until an eavesdropping businessman (B.J. Novak) shows him how to get more than a measly percentage of the bottom line by shifting his business from restaurants to real estate.

Kroc is shrewd and uncompromising. He sets his sights on the piano-playing wife (a blonde Linda Cardellini) of a Minnesota restaurateur (Patrick Wilson) and we know it's only a matter of time before he'll be with her. (The powdered milkshakes are actually her idea.) He drives the McDonald brothers crazy with his real estate maneuver and tries to smooth things over with a blank check delivered to a hospital bed and later a buyout with a handshake promise to royalties in perpetuity.

Written by Robert Siegel (The Wrestler) and directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks), The Founder initially feels like a history lesson. This is the story of McDonald's and the man who changed eating as we know it. It's heavy on exposition, delving into the specifics of which makes the model successful. It almost feels like something McDonald's themselves would make.

Brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac McDonald (John Carroll Lynch), the brains behind the restaurant, find their partnership with Kroc a frustrating arrangement.

Eventually, our perception of the film changes as Kroc evolves from a struggling but persistent salesman into something of a conniving maniac. Power and success go to his head and all else, from his wife to courtesy to common sense, fall into the background. The corporation that features to some degree in the diets of so much of the world wasn't so much founded by a go-getter, but was essentially taken from two brothers by someone who took credit for everything.
As a clip of the real Kroc in the end credits illustrates, Kroc liked the name "McDonald's", but was willing to part with everything else in the interest of advancing the business, especially the brothers who for most of the film feature in telephone calls in which Kroc violently hangs up on them.

Hancock is not someone you expect the most prestigious of films from. The Blind Side is probably the worst nominee for the Best Picture Oscar this century and that was his biggest success. The Founder is often pedestrian and it's no fault of the committed cast, whom Keaton leads with the gusto and vigor you expect. Flash is not in Hancock's vocabulary, though the film at least does an admirable job of recreating a time and place, succeeding in that regard better than Hancock's previous film, the otherwise superior Saving Mr. Banks, did.

Though it opened pretty much everywhere in January, The Founder was not a January movie in the negative sense. It had an awards-qualifying run in early December, albeit one that was almost altogether fruitless. (Which prevented Keaton from extending his streak to three consecutive Best Picture winners.) It is an indie film from a commercial, mainstream director that opened surprisingly wide in a little over 1,000 theaters. As far as biopics go, there are much safer and more predictable ones than this. There is depth and darkness to this film that take their time to surface and belie the bright and sunny visuals. Though serviceable and well-made, it predictably faltered with moviegoers. After opening in 11th place with just $3.4 million its opening weekend, the film at least endured enough to grossing just under $13 M domestically, a sum it almost matched in foreign markets.

The Founder gets another shot at finding an audience with tomorrow's Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack release from The Weinstein Company and their home video partner Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The Founder: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English/Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video


Blu-ray treats The Founder to excellent picture and sound. The 2.40:1 transfer is sharp and exquisitely defined, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio does a nice job of distributing crisp dialogue and tasteful score.

Production designer Michael Corenblith shows us around the authentically recreated 195t0s McDonald's restaurant. Time-lapse video shows a McDonald's restaurant being built for the movie.


The Founder is joined by two types of bonus features
on both Blu-ray and DVD.

First up, a Behind the Scenes Gallery is not the photo gallery you might anticipate but a collection of five short making-of featurettes running 20 minutes and 10 seconds overall.

"The Story Behind the Story" focuses on the true story dramatized here as a way of synopsizing the film. "Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc" celebrates the leading man. "The McDonald Brothers" looks at John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman's supporting roles. "The Production Design" gives us a tour of the recreated early restaurants via colorful, authentic period mise en scθne. "Building McDonald's: Time Lapse Video", as you can guess, shows the period restaurant built for this film being constructed over the course of who knows how long.

Jeremy Renner, best known as an actor, discusses his duties as one of the producers of "The Founder" in the included LA press conference. Ray Kroc cracks a shifty smile on The Founder's DVD main menu.

A Press Conference (37:44) conducted January 12, 2017 in Los Angeles features answers from actors Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Nick Offerman, and Laura Dern; director John Lee Hancock; producers
Don Handfield and Jeremy Renner (yes, Hawkeye); and grandsons of the real McDonald's brothers and questions by Variety's Jenelle Riley. An enjoyable and informative inclusion, it's standard press conference Q & A material in which each gives their perspective of the true story and the production.

The discs open with trailers for Lion and Sing Street. The Founder's own trailer is not included here.

The main menu loops clips above white and yellow listing bars.

A Digital HD insert joins the two plain gray discs inside the slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase which does not shy from reusing the McDonald's logo-inspired theatrical marketing scheme.

Michael Keaton gets very close to the camera as businessman and future billionaire Ray Kroc, the subject of the McDonald's biopic "The Founder."


The Founder takes a while to win you over and is never the first-rate biopic you want it to be and it wants to be. Still, this drama has enough depth and complex characterization to warrant praise. Weinstein/Anchor Bay's Blu-ray combo pack complements a fine feature presentation with versatility and some substantial extras. This merits at least a rental.

Buy The Founder from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Lion • Fences • Silence • Collateral Beauty • Live by Night • Patriots Day • 20th Century Women • Youth in Oregon
Directed by John Lee Hancock: Saving Mr. Banks • The Rookie
Michael Keaton: Spotlight • Birdman • Need for Speed • Jackie Brown • The Other Guys
John Carroll Lynch: Jackie • Fargo • Zodiac | Nick Offerman: The Kings of Summer • Paradise

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Reviewed April 18, 2017.

Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 The Weinstein Company, FilmNation Entertainment, Faliro House Productions, and The Combine,
2017 The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.