Described as a modern-day Mark Twain style adventure story, writers and directors Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz’s directorial debut The Peanut Butter Falcon lived up to its description. The adventure comedy-drama stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagen and is a modern retelling of Huckleberry Finn. The Roadside Attractions film follows a young man who runs away from his nursing home to live out his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Spoilers after the trailer.
At first glance, watching Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a 22 year-old man with Down syndrome living at a nursing home with a bunch of seniors, raises a lot of questions. However, the film does explain this by using his caretaker Eleanor’s (Dakota Johnson) dialogue as exposition. Since the state didn’t have anywhere else to put Zak he has to live with the elderly with his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern) who helps him escape.
However, when Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) is introduced in the film he doesn’t have any redeemable traits that makes the audience want to root for him.
Zack Gottsagen has Down syndrome as his character, and that makes his performance feel more authentic instead of a caricature. The idea for the film came when Gottsagen pitched it to the directors at a camp, but instead of wanting to become an actor the character of Zak wants to become a professional wrestler in the film. Gottsagen and LaBeouf have a good chemistry throughout that makes their odd couple pairing work.
One of the best moments in the film between the 3 happen on their makeshift raft. Eleanor has been coddling Zak for most of his adult life and Tyler confronts her about it. Zak puts his head in the water to catch a fish and Tyler flat out tells Eleanor that she needs to stop treating him like he’s retarded. The drama breaks up after Zak rises out of the water with a fish he caught with his bare hands, a very impressive feat.
The biggest gripe in The Peanut Butter Falcon is that villains are comically underwritten. Duncan (John Hawkes) and Ratboy (Yelawolf) only appear on screen to chase after Zak and his friends. This doesn’t ruin the film, but does make for some cheesy moments.
The cheesiest yet funniest part of the film comes at the end when Zak gets to live out his dream as a wrestler. Zak lived out his dream by training with Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church) and Sam (Jake Roberts) in the squared circle and debuted his Peanut Butter Falcon moniker. Wrasslin’ is a work, but Sam tries to shoot on Zak and goes into business for himself. Most of the side characters do not have any character that makes them memorable, but they work within the parameters of the film.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming, funny buddy road trip where Zack Gottsagen has a remarkable big screen debut. Shia LaBeouf and Gottsagen have great chemistry throughout the film. Dakota Johnson’s performance was missing something, but she doesn’t hinder the film that much. If you’re looking to watch a feel good movie then this one the best of 2019.
[All Mames Wey]
The Peanut Butter Falcon DVD and Blu-ray release date is set for November 12, 2019 and available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on November 5, 2019.