Producer-director John Dower likes to visit with people. He did just that with “Bradley Wiggins: A Year in Yellow,” an award-winning hour with the British ‘Team Sky’ professional cyclist who was the first Brit to win the Tour de France and the Olympic Games time trial. That was 2012, when Dower made that film (which you can watch here). He’s tackled soccer (or football, as the rest of the world calls it) when he co-directed (with Paul Crowder) “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos” in 2006, and got some mileage from “Live Forever” (2003), his examination of the British pop scene in the 1990s. He even got Anthony Hopkins to warm up and chat about the classic American film “Rocky” in a Sky HD commercial.
So much for the lead in. Today’s main attraction is Joe Maggard (who?). Well, he’s a retired actor/stuntman, veteran, and former cop who lives in Las Vegas. You won’t know him from his varied roles (“audience member,” “bartender,” “townsperson #1”), but, with a tad of makeup, some big red “magic” shoes, a clown suit, and a bright orange wig, you might. He’s one of only eight people to have officially served (1995-2007, now semi-retired) as mascot for the maker of billions and billions sold. He’s a Ronald McDonald.
Arriving as part of the “Shorts Program: Gone Hollywood” at this year’s AFI DOCS fest, this brief glimpse of a man with a blessed life (particularly after surviving a broken neck as a youngster) masterfully interposes Joe’s thoughts on his life with interesting cutaways. Ultimately, the man becomes the clown (“like an superhero, he’s ready to go”), and that’s when “Ronald” soars… but not before a little karaoke. By the time Joe has left the building, and the ever-proud fast food representative has morphed into a high-fiving Ronald, you might notice a dash of Elvis thrown in for extra flavor.
You may not be a fan of McDonald’s, but you’ll love “Ronald.” Send in this clown.