Movie Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon, a southern and saltwater-soaked tale of friendship
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It’s a funny, touching, and tear-jerking adventure for the ages.
“Two bandits on the run!”
Shia LaBeouf and newcomer Zack Gottsagen are the spirited buddy duo in The Peanut Butter Falcon, a southern and saltwater-soaked tale of a wonderfully unique friendship that converges like a delta stream.
Zak (Gottsagen) is a diehard wrestling enthusiast with Down Syndrome, living a discontented life in a nursing home. Tyler (LaBeouf) is a down-and-out wrongdoer running from his troubled past. The two wind up in the same boat (quite literally) and set out on a journey to follow Zak’s ultimate dream down to a wrestling school in Florida. But it’s no easy coasting, as each of them have folks on their trail — some nicer than others.
It’s a funny, touching, and tear-jerking adventure for the ages. Writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz orchestrate the events with passionate, clear-eyed optimism. With streaks of Jeff Nichol’s superb coming-of-age film Mud, the film emphatically charms as a buddy comedy, an underdog story, and an on-the-run trek all at once. It’s so completely moving to see Zak and Tyler develop a bond, and the beautiful cinematography and awe-inspiring views of exquisite sunsets and vast waterways might have you contributing your own puddles of saltwater — grab some tissues.
Gottsagen as Zak aka The Peanut Butter Falcon gives such a heartfelt and funny performance here. LaBeouf is also fantastic, demonstrating magnificent range and nuance as a memorably messy character that is equal parts pained, tough-loving, and empathetic. He’s truly one of the best and most compelling actors of his generation. Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, John Hawkes, and country rapper Yelawolf (whoa!) are all excellent in their supporting roles.
This sensational gem of a film is all about how we enrich each other’s lives in unexpected manners, the strengths we find to wade through the swamps, and how a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. It’s a modern classic. A greatly told story. In The Peanut Butter Falcon, fairytales are authentic. Fables are genuine. Legends are real. Zak is our hero.