Movie Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz direct this film it stars Shia LaBeouf, Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, Jon Bernthal, and Thomas Haden Church.

Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is an adult who has down syndrome and is living in a retirement home. Zak is a big fan of pro wrestling and escapes the retirement home to enroll in the wrestling school. He meets with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), and this film follows their journey.

This is delightful, moving, heartwarming and funny film. I enjoyed the story, and the characters were presented smartly. The lead character, Zak (portrayed by Zack Gottsagen), has down syndrome and he is under the impression that he is a bad person because of it (also because he was abandoned). Zak wants to become a pro wrestler, so he decides to chase his dream of enrolling into a wrestling school. He meets with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), and they both soon become friends. I loved Tyler and Zak together because their chemistry was sweet and highly believable. Dakota Johnson as Eleanor was right, and Bruce Dern is Bruce Dern. The acting is excellent, and its scenery is fresh. Mainly takes place in bodies of water and it’s brilliantly directed and shot that it makes you feel as if your right there with these characters. I follow wrestling (not as much as I use to) and had a smile on my face while seeing the hardcore legend himself in a cameo. I loved how this film portrayed the down syndrome topic while simultaneously not overdoing it. For example, there is one scene where Zak is referred as a “retard” because of his condition and is bullied; towards the end of the film there a several scenes that are handled smartly in a way that there was always an opportunity to bring up his condition, but they didn’t. Zak was treated (mainly by Taylor) as someone who can do everything and anything anyone else can do and I loved this film for this very reason. There is a scene between Tyler and Zak where they are speaking of Zak’s condition and its one of my favorite scenes of this year. Johnson’s character, Eleonor, is the person in charge of Zak while he was in the retirement home. She goes out looking for Zak, and when she finally finds him, she treats him as a person who can’t do anything for himself and Tyler’s reaction to this is gold.

It is well known that I’m a fan of smaller independent films. Character-driven films and I’m a sucker for movies with many scenes where small talk takes place. Also, this film comes in a good length (a little over 90 minutes) and quite frankly I wouldn’t have minded seeing an additional 10-15 minutes of Zak and Tyler having conversations. One of my favorite movies of this year and I would very much recommend seeing this movie. Please see it.

I give this film a 9.5 out of 10


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