John Lee Hancock‘s The Founder (a.k.a. “It Takes A Bit Of A Hard-Driving Shit To Build An Empire”) has suddenly decided to open tomorrow (Wednesday, 12.7) for a week in order to qualify for awards. But only, I gather, in New York and Los Angeles. Definitely worth seeing. My first assessment (basically an ethical riff) popped on 11.14; my second (“Ballsy Founder Treads Ethical Line With Skill Of A Mountain Goat“) appeared on 12.2.

Excerpt #1: “The Founder is basically the story of how the legendary Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) persuaded the earnest, slightly doltish, small-time-thinking McDonald brothers (Dick and Mick, respectively played by Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch) to let him franchise their small fast-food business and turn it into a super-sized empire. But more generally it’s a nuts-and-bolts story about what a scramble it is to grow a business and then stay afloat with all the serpents snapping at your heels.”

Excerpt #2: “Keaton’s Kroc is not a shithead, but just a hungry, wily go-getter who believes in the organizational basics that made McDonald’s a hit during its early California years (1940 to ’54) and who has the drive and the smarts to build it into a major money-maker. Kroc may not be the most ardently “likable” protagonist I’ve ever hung with, but he isn’t exactly “unlikable” either. Your heart is basically with him, and I was surprised to feel this way after having nursed vaguely unpleasant thoughts about the guy (scrappy Republican, Nixon and Reagan supporter) my entire life.

Excerpt #3: “And Keaton turns the key in just the right way. He doesn’t try to win you over but he doesn’t play Ray as a bad guy either — he plays it somewhere in between, and it’s that ‘in between’ thing that makes The Founder feel quietly fascinating. It allows you to root for a not-so-nice-but-at-the-same-time-not-so-bad guy without feeling too conflicted.”

Excerpt #4: “The Founder is smart, absorbing, realistic and mild-mannered. Nobody goes nuts or screams or slugs anyone. No car crashes, no fucking, no fart jokes, no temper tantrums, no squealing tires, no belly laughs, no heavyosity. It’s just a straight-dealing, no b.s. real-life saga about an American success story. Dogged, bare bones, focused — a film that lays its cards on the table and doesn’t fool around. It’s basically Keaton’s show with B.J. Novak and Linda Cardellini delivering the strongest supporting performances as the late McDonald’s CEO Harry J. Sonneborn and Kroc’s second wife, Joan Smith.”