“The Peanut Butter Falcon” Movie Review

Story posted September 10, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by Lilly Adams

This movie was originally released on Aug. 9, 2019.

There’s something about two unfamiliar, polar-opposite movie characters embarking on a long journey together that makes films magical. Maybe it’s the creation of a contradicting yet powerful dynamic between characters that audiences envy. Maybe it’s the appeal of an unbelievable journey. Maybe it’s just the power of movie magic to intertwine both of these ideas. This tactic is seen in simplistic children’s films like “Shrek,” hilarious comedies like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” and, most recently, funny, heartwarming, dramas like “The Peanut Butter Falcon.”

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” starring Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson, and introducing Zack Gottsagen, tells the tale of Zak, a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome who escapes from the confinements of the nursing home where he resides in order to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Along the way, he meets the rebellious, troubled runaway Tyler, and the two begin a long journey from North Carolina to Florida on foot, all while being searched for by the nursing home employee Eleanor.

The film touches on generally unspoken topics while having Zak and Tyler form a powerful connection, bringing in a grounded sense of realism not seen in many of these “journey” films before. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” challenges the stigma against mental disabilities, addresses PTSD, portrays the often forgotten working-class America, analyzes the unspoken taboo against mental health issues and more. If these topics sound too distracting from the all-around beauty, sentiment and grace of “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” they’re not. The film handles all of these topics with such natural flow that it almost seems casual. The audience is simply existing in the character’s lives, watching them with happiness, empathy and excitement: emotions that perfectly tie into what the movie was trying to achieve.

While the story, acting and cinematography of the film is solid and borderline Oscar-worthy, it seems as if the filmmakers ran out of time towards the end. Within the first minute after the climax happens, the end credits are rolling. Adding five to 10 more minutes to the runtime in order to wrap up the film with the time and patience that it deserves could have made “The Peanut Butter Falcon” the movie of the year, but directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz seemed to have too much ambition and too many ideas to execute it properly.

Besides that miniscule mistake, almost everything else in the film is done to near perfection. The audience can feel itself walking in the sand and corn fields of North Carolina, smelling the crab on the fishing boats that the main characters find themselves on, and feeling the ocean breeze run through its hair, all thanks to the incredible cinematography by director of photography Nigel Bluck. There was nothing lacking in the filmmaking of this movie nor in the acting. Shia LaBeouf executes the character of Tyler with such ease and excellence that it’s hard to recognize him as LaBeouf, and the same can be said for newcomer Zack Gottsagen. The dynamic that the pair shares on screen goes beyond chemistry and dives into the beauty of friendship. A contrasting classic and innovative feel-good movie with a heart as gold as the North Carolina sand on which the characters travel, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” should be on every moviegoer’s must-see list.

Rating: 4/5

 

Lilly Adams is a junior majoring in film/video. To contact her, email lillyadams11@gmail.com.