Biography Blu-ray Review

'The Founder' Blu-ray Review: Michael Keaton chases the American dream, one Happy Meal at a time

April 26, 2017Ben MK

Michael Keaton is best known for his starring roles in such films as Batman, Beetlejuice and, more recently, Birdman. But in director John Lee Hancock's new biopic, The Founder, Keaton adds a surprisingly memorable role to his long list of memorable roles, playing the man behind the McDonald's fast food empire, Ray Kroc.

Set in 1954, the film follows the 52-year-old Kroc, from his days crisscrossing the American Midwest as a traveling salesman hawking his wares at drive-in diners to his ascension to the top of a multi-million dollar corporation. To get from point A to point B, however, was no easy feat. And as we discover, there was quite a lot of collateral damage along the way, including the disintegration of Kroc's marriage with his first wife, Ethel (Laura Dern), not to mention the shattered dreams of brothers Dick and Mac McDonald (Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch).

Suffice to say, the script by Robert Siegel doesn't try to disguise the fact that, while Kroc was a visionary in many respects, he was also something of a disreputable character, using shady business tactics to essentially cheat the McDonald brothers — the true founders of the franchise — out of what was rightfully theirs. At the same time, though, we can't help but admire Kroc's persistence and drive. After all, the movie is, at its core, an underdog story, and Keaton's ability to walk that fine line between inspirational and reprehensible is a genuine draw.

Still, there are those who will come away from The Founder with an overwhelming feeling of disgust towards Kroc, as he's portrayed as a man motivated by greed, who is willing to do anything to achieve the elusive, all-American dream. Nonetheless, Keaton does a marvelous job bringing a degree of sleazy charisma to the character; and the result makes for a fascinating look at how the ubiquitous — and instantly recognizable — brand came to be.

The Founder's visual aesthetic and sound design is low-key, to say the least, and it's a fact that's reflected in the technical aspects of the film's Blu-ray presentation. This 1080p image isn't jaw-dropping, but the effort that's been put into the 1950s production and costume design is evident, bolstered by nicely saturated colors like the vibrant yellow of the famous Golden Arches. As for the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, it's perfectly suited to the dialogue-driven events of the movie and the piano-driven notes of the score, supporting them with the background atmosphere created by griddles, deep fryers and crowds of satisfied customers.

Elevation Pictures' single-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Ensemble (3:55) - A brief look at the film's principal cast, comprised of Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, B.J. Novak, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson and Laura Dern.
  • Keaton (3:26) - Director John Lee Hancock, the filmmakers and the cast and crew praise Keaton's performance in the movie.
  • Story (3:45) - A piece about how the film portrays the real-life events that inspired it.
  • The Speedy System (3:26) - Offerman and Lynch talk about the "speedy system" created by their characters, and how it revolutionized the restaurant industry.

The Founder is available from Elevation Pictures as of April 18th, 2017. The Blu-ray features English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH and French SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 55 Mins.

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