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Soundtrack review: The founder (Carter Burwell – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: The founder (Carter Burwell – 2016)

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“The Founder” is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by John Lee Hancock and written by Robert Siegel. The film stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc and portrays the story of his creation of the McDonald’s fast food chain. Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch co-star as McDonald’s founders Richard and Maurice McDonald. The music was written by Carter Burwell who had a very good 2016.

First thing I notice is that this score is very fragmented, with a lot of cues and most of them shorter than two minutes. The album opens with a Thomas Newman like sunny piece “San Berardino” which probably describes the quiet life in the suburbs. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a good start. I like the quirky and jazzy follow up, “Multimixer man”. Two cues in and this score put me in a nice and harmless mood. Even if usually I get bored fast with harmless scores this time something in the music, the joy or the playfulness, gets to me and puts a smile on my face. I listen to “First taste” and think of the images this cue could play over. “The creation of the burger” cements the sound of this score and it’s the moment when I realize that this composition has won me over. Again there’s a Thomas Newman “American beauty” quirkiness to the music with the xylophone and the guitar and I love it.

It’s not all light guitar though; Carter Burwell knows how to write piano music and “Flags and steeples” breaks the light and breezy flow of the score with a trademark dark irony that I’ve often heard in his scores for Coen Brothers movies. There’s also a touch of good old Americana in “Minneapolis”. I am actually surprised that I enjoy this score so much since normally I would have skipped a cue like “Crass commercialism” for example. But Burwell somehow found the right dose of quirky jazzy music to set a mood that I can enjoy. I don’t imagine I’ll listen to this score again other than in the context of the movie but it’s the kind of in the moment composition that works when I press play.

“The founder” is a light score that will help the viewer focus on the story and the movie. The music will support from the background and do a very good job as the minimalistic guitar musings can please a very large audience. Me, I also liked that in the middle of “Black check” I found part of the piano motif that made one of my favourite cues from 2016, “Safe harbour” from “The finest hours”.

Cue rating: 79 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 46
Album excellence: 11%
Highlights:
First Taste
The Creation Of The Burger
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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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