Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A hat trick of movie disappointment

The past couple of weeks I had the chance to check out three movies that I had really high hopes for...and was left with crushing disappointment. Here are the three offenders:

A Cure for Wellness (20th Century Fox, 2017)
Starring Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Jason Isaacs
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Screenplay by Justin Haythe (based on a story by Justin Haythe and Gore Verbinski)

This film had an absolutely spectacular ad campaign, full of gorgeous, hypnotic imagery reminiscent of Verbinski's work on The Ring, which is one of my all-time favorite films. Unfortunately, A Cure for Wellness is a case of all the best parts of the film being in the ads. Truly a missed opportunity, and a second consecutive flop for Verbinski (following The Lone Ranger). I did like Dane DeHaan though, and would like to see him in the future.

The Accountant (Warner Bros., 2016)
Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow
Directed by Gavin O'Connor
Written by Bill Dubuque

I DVR'd this one after my Mom told me she thought I'd find it interesting. And it was, kind of. It didn't help that I figured out the twist early on, thanks to checking the film's imdb entry to find out the name of the slightly weird looking actress who kept distracting me from the story (Kendrick). Apparently this movie made a ton of money and just today Warner Bros. announced plans for a sequel. It's apparently me, not the movie, because I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm for it, or for the sequel. I'm still not sure I understand exactly what Affleck's character's backstory is, Simmons's lengthy, expositional explanation notwithstanding.

The body count in this movie rivals the number of dollars earned, so if you like seeing lots of people shot with high-powered weapons, I highly recommend The Accountant.

The Founder (The Weinstein Co., 2016)
Starring Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern
Directed by John Lee Hancock
Written by Robert Siegel

This is actually a really good movie with exceptional performances (especially Keaton, and Offerman and Lynch as the overly-trusting McDonald brothers), but it left me feeling depressed and angry, and the reason is that according to this movie, Ray Kroc was an awful, horrible human being.

Kroc, known to many people as the "founder" of the McDonald's fast food chain, was a failing, middle-aged milk shake blender salesman when he got an abnormally large order for machines from a small family owned burger stand in San Bernardino, California. Designed and run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald, the stand cranked out burgers, fries and drinks at a speed unheard of at the time, and business was booming. Once Kroc got a look at the operation, he contracted with the brothers for franchise rights, and the Golden Arches were off and running.

Unfortunately for the brothers, Kroc was a ruthless businessman who little by little encroached on the McDonald's identity, until he took it from Dick and Mac. Even worse, when he was finally buying them out completely, Kroc managed to cheat them one last time, in a move that deprived the company's namesakes (and true founders) of hundreds of millions of dollars of future earnings. Kroc also took away the McDonald's ability to even use their own name on their own burger stand, then in a final knife-twist, opened a McDonald's directly across the street from their stand, putting them out of business within a couple of years.

It's a fascinating film, but one in which the protagonist is the worst person in the film, which makes it difficult to figure out how to process it. It's worthwhile viewing, but will leave you angry at the injustices heaped on Dick and Mac, and wondering how different things would have been for them and us if Ray Kroc had never darkened their door.

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