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Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.

The Founder
Starring: Michael Keaton, Laura Dern, Linda Cardinelli, B.J. Novak, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch
Synopsis: There’s a famous adage, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Fittingly there’s been a lot of debate about who first offered that view of the world, but it perfectly sums up Ray Kroc, the man who’s gone down in history as the creator of the McDonald’s franchise. In the new movie “The Founder,” writer Robert Siegel chronicles the building of the McDonald’s fast-food empire. It tells the story of Kroc, his discovery of the McDonald brothers and the partnership that spawned the most famous golden arches in history. But like many true stories, it’s not always what you’d expect. The long gestating film – which was originally set for a summer release in 2016, then moved to fall and finally to January 2017 – features Michael Keaton and an all-star cast, and proves a fascinating and enjoyable watch. John Lee Hancock is no stranger to bringing these true life stories to the big screen. He previously served as director for “The Rookie,” “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” He has a feel for capturing different periods and bringing out the human – and often messy – drama behind recognizable stories and brands. That’s true of “The Founder,” which is an engrossing and well-told film that captures a story of McDonald’s few are familiar with. By now we all recognize the golden arches that have become the franchise symbol. They are synonymous with American life, and that’s a credit to Kroc’s vision. He didn’t create the Speedee Service System, but he clearly saw what it could mean to America. As captured in the film, Kroc had a vision that the golden arches, and all that meant, could be as familiar a symbol in towns across America as a church steeple and a court house. And he fought to make that vision a reality. By the time Kroc died in 1984, McDonald’s generated more than $8 billion in annual revenue and was in 31 countries. And it’s only continued to grow in the years since. Kroc didn’t create the system, but he perfected the model and made it a national brand. And the film does a good job of showcasing that vision and the tenacity he used to pull it off. But “The Founder” isn’t about hero worship. While you could easily come away admiring the way he created the brand, the film doesn’t gloss over Kroc’s flaws. He, by most accounts, pulled one over on the McDonald brothers, and he was a shark in her personal life, too. He cast aside his wife, Ethel (Laura Dern), and ended up taking the wife of one of his franchisees, Joan Smith (Linda Cardinelli). It’s a credit to Hancock and the script from Siegel that this is a compelling story that takes an honest look at what it took to build and empire. And it’s a credit to Keaton that the film is so compelling. He does a great job of sinking into the role of Kroc and making him compelling. The rest of the cast is good, too. Offerman is best known for his comedic work, but he’s playing a more serious role here, and does it well. Carroll Lynch is strong as Mac McDonald, too. And the rest of the supporting cast helps drive the story. I have been looking forward to “The Founder” for months because I was fascinated by the story and how it would be put together, and this film doesn’t disappoint. It may even make you yearn for a cheeseburger.
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language.
Verdict: Three stars out of four.

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