A modern Mark Twain style adventure story, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down’s syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak’s return, to join them on their journey.
What We Thought:
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a delightful little film that I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s Shia LaBeouf’s best performance in years and newcomer Zack Gottsagen will charm audiences.
If you read the synopsis up top you’ll know everything you need to know about the story. To me the film is much more than just the story though. Sure that story is sweet and fans of Mark Twain will love it, but the movie is also the performances and environment. Using small fishing towns and shorelines as a backdrop, the movie looks beautiful and quaint. You get the cast of characters you expect in small, Southern towns and it captures life outside the big city.
Then there are the performances. LaBeouf made a name for himself as a youngster in Even Stevens, Holes and the Transformers flicks. Then he sort of James Franco’d his career getting weird, recording himself watching his own movies, hurting his hand with a drunk driving incident, and more. But I always thought he could be a good actor despite all that and this film will remind people of his talent. He’s very much a likable leading man who you root for despite causing his own problems in life.
Speaking of likable, whoever discovered Gottsagen needs an award. You 100% root for Zak to follow his dreams despite breaking out of a place with no money, no clothes and no supplies. He’s funny and honest and you absolutely want to see him succeed. He has great chemistry with LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson and I hope he gets a ton of offers after this.
Despite really liking The Peanut Butter Falcon it does have some issues. The backstory between LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal ultimately means nothing. It sort of shows LaBeouf’s character’s loneliness/depression, but it really isn’t necessary. There is enough going on to figure out without needing flashbacks. The ending is pretty quick as well, but overall I don’t have much to complain about with the film. It’s a nice, small movie we need more of today. It has a sweet story with solid performances and a great backdrop. Nothing else to say besides…
Directed/Written by: Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, Thomas Haden Church
Running Time: 93 mins