Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Founder - Movie Review

Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, BJ Novak and Kate Kneeland.
Written by Robert Siegel.
Directed by John Lee Hancock.

★★★

This has the plucky appeal of a Frank Capra movie that ultimately turns subversive when our hero Ray Kroc winds up being the villain.

Keaton plays Kroc, a middle-aged hustling salesman of restaurant products who comes across McDonald's in 1954. It's run by two salt-of-the-earth brothers (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch) who have tried and failed to franchise their brand. Kroc begs and pleads to expand them, and they finally give in.

Kroc sees himself as a man living the American dream, and he does, but he is so driven, he doesn't care who he crushes to accomplish his goals, and in the end, he screws over the very brothers whose business made Kroc a success.

I came out admiring it, but with a bad taste in my mouth. It's a clever twist on determination and hard work. I wish the director had been able to stick the landing better, but I can see why there was a lot of belief that Keaton would get another Oscar nomination for this role.

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Other 2016 Movies I Saw


EQUALS (★★) Starring Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart and Guy Pearce.

Sterile, dystopian film that never really explores new ideas. It's a future where all emotions are suppressed and everyone wears white while they do "work" on giant iPads. Two individuals fall in love, which is forbidden, so they must hide their love. It never goes to the next level with the story.

FINDING DORY (★★★) Starring the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks and Ed O'Neill.

It's bright and bubbly and contains several moments of Pixar magic, but it also violates the rules it had set up from the first movie. We accept anthromorphized fish, but they were kept within certain bounds. Remember how hard it was to escape the tank in the first movie? This movie the fish hop from tank to tank with no problem, and there's an octopus that apparently went through Navy SEAL training, because he can do anything. Why would an octopus be able to drive a truck? I liked it, but by Pixar standards, it's one of their weaker entries.

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (★★) Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Woody Harrelson.

This movie takes what didn't work in the first movie and makes it worse. There's more CGI used in place of actual magic tricks, more contrivances to get characters from Point A to Point B, and an ending that falls even farther apart than the last one. In the first one, the fact that Mark Ruffalo's Dylan was revealed to be an ally didn't make sense. What they do with a character at the end here is even worse.

RISEN (★★★) Starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton and Cliff Curtis.

One of those Christian movies that doesn't feel like it's pandering. It centers on a Roman centurion (Fiennes) who is ordered to find the body of Jesus, which disappeared from the tomb three days after his crucifixion. It's a part of the Christ story rarely dramatized - the post-resurrection part - but done so to decent effect here.

STORKS (★★★) Starring the voices of Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer and Jennifer Aniston.

It's got a thin plot, but the gags come fast and furious. A lot of your enjoyment will depend on how much you like Samberg's style of humor. I happen to be a big fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine so I liked it.

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (★★★) Starring Tina Fey, Margot Robbie and Martin Freeman.

This fact-based comedy-drama plops Tina Fey as a reporter in the middle of Afghanistan. These are the type of movies that are difficult to market, and while it's not great, it is good, and I'm glad movies like this can still get made.