Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: The Founder

M. Night Shyamalan’s riveting “Split” is also new to Blu-Ray this week.

It’s a curious thing. How did the world’s most iconic restaurant franchise, founded by a man with the last name Kroc, get to be called McDonald’s? The answer, as Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) points out in “The Founder,” is that it is such a warm, family-friendly, quintessentially Americana name that it can’t be ignored the way naming the restaurant Burger whatever can.

Based on a true story, “The Founder” isn’t just about the rights to the name McDonald’s, or to the “Speedy System” that made the walk up method of brothers Mac and Dick McDonald (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman) so ground breaking. It’s about the struggle to bring the vision of one incredibly ambitious and driven salesman to full-fledged reality.

The movie starts in 1954, with salesman Ray Kroc on the road driving around to burger joints and diners hawking milkshake mixers. Each night back at his hotel, he puts on a motivational record that serves as mental exercise to keep him tough, determined, and open to whatever opportunity may lay on the horizon.

That opportunity comes in the form of McDonald’s, a burger restaurant like no other, located in San Bernardino, CA. After hearing that the six milkshake mixers the McDonald brothers ordered is a mistake—they need to make it eight—Kroc heads down route 66 to see the place for himself.

What he finds is, for its time, genius. Instead of an inconvenient drive up where it takes carhops twenty minutes to bring a burger, fries, and a drink, the customers at McDonald’s walk up to the counter and are swiftly handed their food in a paper bag. They can eat anywhere they choose, and there are no utensils or dishes—just some paper to throw away when they’re done.

After meeting the McDonald brothers, it’s clear that Mac is the good-natured, friendly one who is about customer service and making sure that folks have a good experience. Dick is the fastidious one, more concerned with speed, efficiency, the crispiness of the fries, and the correct number of pickles on each burger. What the brothers share is a love of their business that they founded (you can see where the conflict comes from in this movie) and in protecting it. Ray Kroc thinks they should franchise. They resist the idea. Go down any main street pretty much anywhere in the United States, and you can plainly see how the rest is history.

One of the main things I respect about “The Founder” is that it makes clear that it took more than energy and will power for Kroc to become so successful. He didn’t merely win the McDonald brothers over with the charm and persuasion of a good business proposal. There’s another factor involved. One of ruthlessness, cold-heartedness, and greed. That’s something that can’t be taught on a motivational record. These characteristics are a part of who Kroc is as a man, and they’re every bit as important to his success, and ultimately, the success of McDonald’s, as his ambition and determination. “The Founder” paints a full picture and makes a compelling argument that if it wasn’t for Ray Kroc and who he is—good and bad—the world would not know the iconic golden arches that are so easily recognizable today. Buy it on Amazon: Founder, The [Blu-ray].

Also New This Week


Go ahead, call it a comeback. M. Night Shyamalan is back in top form, making the kind of eerie, suspenseful, and thought-provoking movies that helped make him a household name almost two decades ago. While “Split” may be the movie that signals his return for most people, for me Night has two in a row now, as I thought his previous film, the underrated “The Visit,” was fantastically creepy and twisted.

“Split” stars James McAvoy as Kevin, a man with twenty-three distinct personalities inhabiting him. There is a twenty-fourth that wants to emerge, but that would be bad news for anyone who is around when it does.

Another one of the personalities, called Dennis, is bad news for three teenage girls: Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Jessica Sula). After leaving a birthday party, the three get into a car and wait for Claire’s dad (Neal Huff) to get in and drive. Instead, Kevin/Dennis gets in. They think he got into the wrong car by accident. Nope. He’s there to knock them out and kidnap them.

The suspense in the kidnap plot is ratcheted up a notch since, as the girls soon discover, they never know who they are going to get when Kevin walks through the door. Will it be Dennis? Will it be Hedwig, a nine-year-old boy? Or will it be Patricia, a polite and matronly female personality? A game of cat and mouse ensues as the girls try to use each personality to their advantage to make their escape. Here’s the rub: Which ones are trustworthy, if any, and which ones aren’t? Also, how can they be sure that Kevin won’t switch from one personality to the other during one of their schemes to break free?

The added layer of tension is palpable. Filling it out even more are Kevin’s sessions with his therapist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). She has a strong inclination that Kevin might have done something, and is concerned about him. She is also an expert in Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and grounds the movie—as well as Kevin’s behavior and affliction—with scientific explanation. Whether or not the science behind “Split” is accurate to the real world is irrelevant. The fact is that the science of the movie works for the movie, and that is all that’s required. It’s a work of fiction, and as such, it needs to work on its own terms. That is exactly what “Split” does. Buy it on Amazon: Split (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD).

More New Releases: “Sleepless,” about a cop searching through a night club for his kidnapped son, starring Michelle Monaghan, Dermot Mulroney, Gabrielle Union, and Jamie Foxx; “Punching Henry,” about a struggling satirical singer-songwriter navigating the entertainment industry in L.A., starring Tig Notaro, J.K. Simmons, Sarah Silverman, Mike Judge, and Jim Jefferies; and “Arbor Demon,” about a married couple and an injured hunter trapped in a tent in the woods by a malevolent entity.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

Cron Job Starts