I’m very excited to say that I’m about to review a movie that I was looking forward to: The Peanut Butter Falcon. It recently opened up in Winnipeg and I rushed to the theater when I found out. This is a movie that started out as a passion project for one of the actors and began getting a ton of buzz from critics following a wonderful showing at SXSW (South by Southwest) Film Festival.
The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak, a young man living with Down syndrome, who runs away from the nursing home that he lives in. Zak escapes and hits the road with the goal to make his way to the Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school. On his way he bumps into Tyler, a man with a rocky past, and the two travel while teaching one another about life, while trying to hide from those looking for Zak and Tyler.
The Peanut Butter Falcon stars Zack Gottasgen as Zak, Shia LaBeouf as Tyler, Dakota Johnson as Eleanor, and features Thomas Haden Church, Jon Bernthal, Yelawolf, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Mick Foley. The movie is written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.
The Peanut Butter Falcon has a metascore of 69 and 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Peanut Butter Falcon… wow. Honestly! The movie is a Huckleberry Finn type story about two men on the lam and both actors play their roles wonderfully. Shia LaBeouf is spectacular and really is a great actor. He dives head first into his roles, having previously cut his face, removed a tooth and getting a specific hand tattoo just for role authenticity. This is no different. He researched vigorously, and developed on screen and off screen chemistry with Zack. And it shows.
In my opinion, the movie does a fairly authentic job showing the struggles people living with disabilities might face; highlighting pieces of Zak’s life – including the care givers need to protect, and spending his life in a nursing home as a young man. Tyler is unphased by things that many people have reacted to his whole life, and challenges Zak to learn new skills and to follow his dreams, even if it means leaving his comfort zone. There was a great line in the movie where Zak tries to explain himself to Tyler, “I want you to know about me. I am a Down syndrome person.” Tyler responds, “I don’t really give a shit. Do you have supplies on you? That’s what we need.” I love that exchange so much. Tyler and Zak are equals through the entire movie. Two outlaws. Road dogs.
The addition of Jake Roberts and Mick Foley are wonderful as it adds a piece of nostalgia for the wrestling fan in me. Thomas Haden Church gives one of the best “feel” moments in the movie, and Yelawolf fits right in being a rugged southern crab-fisher.
The cast is great, but the back story adds a whole other layer to this movie. Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz were at a camp for actors with disabilities in 2011. While there, they met a young man named Zack and made a short film with him. They were very impressed with his acting and the decisions he made. Zack, however had bigger dreams. He wanted to star in a movie. Nilson and Schwartz explained to Zack that him starring in a movie was unlikely due to the marketplace. People don’t finance movies about people with disabilities. So Zack suggested that they write the movie and they could make it. So the group filmed a proof of concept video. Essentially, a shortened version of the movie with minimal budget that is used to sell to potential investors. With the short, they acquired funding, and a monster of a cast. Warms the cold cockles of your heart, right?
The Peanut Butter Falcon is spectacular. I cannot say that enough. This movie is in talks now of being one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2019.
I am very happy to give The Peanut Butter Falcon an A+.