Jordan Peele's 'Us' is a Creepy Tale That Sadly Mirrors Our Reality

On May 25, 1986, approximately 6.5 million Americans stood hand in hand forming a human chain that stretched from New York to California for an event called Hands Across America. It was a fundraiser project from USA for Africa (the same people who produced the “We Are the World” single the year before) in hopes of raising $100 million to fight hunger and homelessness. The hope was that everyone who participated would donate $10 for the cause. Families stood and sang together for 15 minutes. And then it was over.

I had trouble remembering if Hands Across America really happened or if it was a gimmick for the film when the original commercial for the event flashed on the big screen during the opening of Us. I only vaguely remember the event, which might have to do more with the fact that I have lived in Washington State my whole life and we weren’t involved in the project. I doubt that I’m the only one and I suspect that was also some of Jordan Peele’s reasoning as well whe…

'The Founder': The Movie McDonald’s Doesn’t Want You to See

Michael Keaton stars as "The Founder" of  McDonald's. (The Weinstein Co.)


Most of us grew up with McDonald’s in their lives. Who didn’t want to visit Ronald in McDonaldland and pick a pick off the apple pie tree or catch a filet-o-fish sandwich? McDonald's was just about as wholesome as Disney. We’ve all been told how Ray Kroc was the founder of McDonald’s and we just assumed that his story was just as wholesome. And it was in the beginning. In the end though, Kroc’s life’s story serves as a cautionary tale and after viewing the film, you probably won’t run to your nearest McDonald’s either.

Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks), The Founder stars Michael Keaton as a washed up salesman who sees a glimmer of hope one day while peddling 5-spindle milkshake mixing machines. None of his drive-in customers want to buy one and then suddenly he gets an order for six. Instead of just taking the order, Kroc drives across the country to find the very first McDonald’s drive-in run by brothers Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch). Kroc almost forgets entirely about the milkshake mixers becoming mesmerized by the McDonald brother’s Speedee System of cooking and selling burgers in matters of seconds.

John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman
Excited by what he saw, Kroc returns home to his long-suffering wife, Ethel (Laura Dern doing her Laura Dernest with the role) and tells her all about his adventure. She asks him if he wants to invest in the drive-in and he says, “I don’t know. But I want to be a part of it.” Ethel wants to be supportive of her husband, but she’s seen her husband chase down dreams before.

It’s not long before Dick and Mac find Kroc on their doorstep once again and this time he has an idea for them: franchise. Though impressed with Kroc’s enthusiasm, the McDonald’s brothers agree that they won’t do any business with the man without a contract. Little did they know that they had just made a deal with the devil.

Michael Keaton and Laura Dern
Watching the history of McDonald’s come alive on screen and seeing just how clever everyone was is really entertaining especially seeing how they took the time to get the “speedee system” down pat. For the first part of the movie, you really feel for Ray as he struggles to make a sale, but as the story goes on and Kroc starts to become accustomed to success, his character begins to turn for the worst. He starts to fib a little on how he became involved with the restaurant and after a while, Kroc starts taking credit for the whole operation claiming that he was the founder of McDonald’s. Actually his character didn’t really change, as it is shown that he was always a discontented man always searching for the next big thing, but by the time he was starting to make some money, all he wanted was more, more, more. By the end of the movie, Kroc ends up destroying numerous lives.

Fans of Offerman will hardly recognize him in his role as Dick McDonald. He is clean shaven and given a short haircut and plays a totally different character than what we’re used to and Keaton’s portrayal of a man with an obsession with becoming the biggest and best is spot on. His total disregard for others in his life will have you outraged by the end of the movie and hopefully cause you to check yourself to make sure that you don’t follow too closely in his footsteps.

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