2016 Certificate: 12

Synopsis

The super-sized story of burger chain McDonald's from local Californian eaterie to world-straddling fast-food colossus stars Michael Keaton as Ray Croc, the travelling salesman who realises its potential as a franchise. However, the brains behind the cost efficient patty-flipping operation - the McDonald brothers Dick and Mac (Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch) - find themselves firmly on the side. After watching this, perhaps you won't be loving it quite so much.

Director

  • John Lee Hancock

Cast

  • Michael Keaton

  • Nick Offerman

  • John Carroll Lynch

  • Linda Cardellini

  • BJ Novak

  • Laura Dern

  • Patrick Wilson

Review

Those that think that colourful clown Ronald McDonald was the shock-haired mastermind behind the global fast-food franchise might find themselves choking on their  Quarter Pounders With Cheese.

McDonalds was actually founded in 1940 as a "barbecue restaurant" in the Californian town of San Bernardino by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald who  hit on the idea of using production line principles - the "Speedee Service" - to increase efficiency.

They were a local success...but things really picked up with the arrival of  milkshake mixer vendor Ray Croc, a sharp-suited, fast-talking salesman who saw the future of the set-up as a franchise operation, a development the brothers had half-heartedly toyed with.

Director John Lee Hancock economically sketches in the key players - Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch sweetly play the McDonald brothers as a resourceful double act but one totally unprepared to combat the deft machinations of a weaselly player like Croc.

He's beautifully portrayed by Keaton as a jobbing travelling salesman whose business epiphany dawns when he alone sees the potential of the burger chain and manages to persuade the brothers to, albeit reluctantly, take a chance on him.

Croc cuts both a pathetic and venal dash, living his life strictly according to the self-help records he travels with and it's only when he's see with his long-suffering wife  (Dern) that you realise he may actually be a nicer guy than he appears. Yet he never is.

The acrimonious split arrives when Croc - on the advice of one of his young Turk recruits - proposes a swift expansion with the company actually owning the property lots on which the outlets are located.

The brothers settled for $2.7m...but a "handshake" agreement for a share in the profits and the San Bernardino branch to be gifted to the employees never materialised and the McDonalds were effectively written out of the picture.

It's a classic story of American corporate steamrollering with the little people flattened on the way to dishonestly-earned but unimaginable success - McDonald's restaurants are found in 118 countries around the world and serve 68 million customers each day.

Tim Evans