Every now and then a special film pops up out of nowhere. This year’s surprise is undoubtedly The Peanut Butter Falcon. I mean, with a title like that how can you go wrong? This is a pure, heartwarming story inside and out, from the film plot itself to everything that led to its creation. The real life Zack Gottsagen had a dream of being a leading man in a feature film. He would learn quickly that something like that in the superficial world that is Hollyweird is next to impossible for someone like him who has down syndrome. Zack, the ever-determined young man approached Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz and told them his dream. When they told him the unlikelihood of such a goal, he simply said to them, “Why don’t you write a movie for me?” Having no reason not to, they created The Peanut Butter Falcon starring Zack Gottsagen.
The story of The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of triumph in the face of great adversity. To overcome something as intimidating as down syndrome and achieve your dreams all the while everyone around you telling you it’s simply not in the cards is a story worthy of being told. But more than reaching for the stars, amateur wrestler and recent runaway Zak yearns for friendship and he finds it in the most unlikely of people, fellow transient Tyler (Shia LaBeouf). At first a bit contentious their relationship quickly blossoms into a friendship resembling more brotherhood than just simply being friends. They begin to bond and cherish their shared freedom no longer fearing the open road alone, but with a trusted companion at one another’s side. Tyler learns of Zak’s dream of attending a famous wrestling school and decides to get Zak there come hell or high water.
Not far behind their trail is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak’s old friend and caretaker responsible for his well being. Tasked with finding him again or losing her job or worse she pursues Zak in hopes of bringing him home. Eventually she catches up with Zak and learns of his new and exciting life with this complete stranger who he has become so close with. In a moment straight out of a fantasy adventure, the newly formed trio begin a bond as they all ultimately decide to get Zak to his wrestling school. Seeing that he’s safe and happy she comes to the conclusion that it would cause more harm than good if she ripped Zak away from his greatest desires. In the end she just may find a different side to herself hidden away all along. Begin their modern day Huckleberry Finn adventure.
What works best here is the authenticity of the relationship between the film’s leading trio of characters, Zak, Tyler, and Eleanor. Zack, Shia, and Dakota bring something intangible to their roles making you feel joy and fear and victory as you live vicariously through their purest moments on screen. You believe them, you feel their love and admiration for one another. Even if the overall goal is one thought up out of naivety from someone who doesn’t know limitations, it never ever feels unnecessary. You want Zak to reach his goal, you want him to shine. You want his friends, with their checkered histories to find redemption in the future they’ve made possible with Zak, their guiding light. With the evils of the world surrounding them and closing in fast, you believe they will overcome and that’s because of Zak who even when feeling defeated never considers turning back. When Tyler and Eleanor look at Zak they see what they wish was their own unwavering confidence, determination, and just general positivity. This brings out the best in themselves and in turn they help carry Zak to his rightful place in the wrestling ring.
The south is a beautiful place if only wildly unkempt. Providing the setting for our heroes, the beautiful sunsets and winding rivers explode on screen enveloped with pure adventure in the very strands of the tall grasses as far as the eye can see and the predators lurking below the surface of the water. It speaks of excitement but with danger never far behind. It’s a place where friendship isn’t only a nice thing to have but more a necessity for surviving the terrain where anything can happen. The alligators are dangerous but the humans are just as ferocious. It’s all captured on film confidently and with a pure kind of wonderment.
Zack Gottsagen is a gem uncovered and shined brand new. He is a presence that brings out happiness in others just from watching his triumphant performance. He makes you believe in the impossible. Together with his costars, they bring to life a story demanding to be seen and experienced. It will warm your soul and leave you with a giant grin on your face feeling like everything will be okay. Say hello to the feel-good story of 2019. All hail THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON!
Rated PG-13 For: thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking
Runtime: 93 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Starring: Zack Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern
Directed By: Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
Check out this other video to learn more of the story behind the film:
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