“The Peanut Butter Falcon” stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, and Thomas Haden Church. Released on August 9, 2019, the film is about a man with Down syndrome who journeys to become a professional wrestler.
The film is written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. It’s always important to chase your dreams (as long as they pay you money). If you put your heart and soul into them, there’s a good chance that you can accomplish anything. The film I’m looking at today represents someone who’s willing to travel hundreds of miles to fulfill his dream. The catch? He’s diagnosed with Down syndrome. This is another original film that I’ll be looking at this month because truth be told, I needed a break from all of the remakes, reboots, and film adaptations that we’ve been getting all summer long. You can thank “The Farewell” for making me realize that. I’m still going to review those types of films for you guys in the future. It’s just that with this year’s awards season coming up, I have to do what I can to watch certain films that are getting some Oscar buzz. Hopefully this film has what it takes to get a nomination or two…or three…or four. Aside from that, is it a trip that’s worth taking?
Described as a modern-day Mark Twain tale, the story follows Zak (Gottsagen), a man with Down syndrome who lives in a nursing home due to his family not wanting him anymore. He runs away from the nursing home and goes on a quest to accomplish his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. With the help of an outlaw named Tyler (LaBeouf) and his caretaker Eleanor (Johnson), Zak will do whatever it takes to make his dream come true while making some new friends along the way. One thing you should know about "Peanut Butter Falcon" is that its story is pretty much simplistic without making things too complicated for its audience. The film explores the aspect of friendship and finding the strength to make one's dream become a reality. It also isn't afraid to portray how certain people treat a disabled person, which works to its advantage of making Zak a relatable and empathic character. It didn't exactly delve deep into this type of theme, but when you have a story that's full of heart and makes you smile all the way through, it hardly needs to. Sometimes, it's good to have a film that's light-hearted and humorous as long as it has a great story to tell and characters that we can relate to, which this film has. If I had to point out a flaw in its storytelling, I would say that the ending didn't exactly hit the right beats as I thought it would have. It's still a solid ending, don't get me wrong. It's just the fact that I was hoping for something more out of the ending than what I got. Despite that, the story took full advantage of its simplicity and its impressive sense of innocence to craft a well-written portrayal of an unexpected friendship. LaBeouf and Johnson were both great in their roles as Tyler and Eleanor, respectively, but the real star of the film was newcomer Zack Gottsagen, who made an incredible first impression onscreen as Zak. It must have taken him a lot of effort and determination to star in something like this. Luckily, it paid off quite well for him. The directors did such a fantastic job at paying respect to this type of concept as well as crafting a style that's as straightforward as the film itself. It's not too complex and it's not too alienated. It had a perfect amount of subtlety and heart to prevent audiences from jumping off the boat too soon.
Overall, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is as weird as the title sounds, but underneath it is a thoughtful and well-acted adventure that plays its heartstrings with stellar results. Thanks to its strong cast, lovable characters, and an effective screenplay by Nilson and Schwartz, the film is another feel-good experience that’ll put a big smile on your face. It just goes to show that even people with disabilities can have dreams as well, and this film did a really good job at displaying that. If it’s playing at a theater near you and you’re in a mood for something innocent and sweet, it’s worth a watch.