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The Peanut Butter Falcon (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

The Peanut Butter Falcon


Starring, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church, Jon Bernthal, Wayne DeHart, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Mick Foley, Yelawolf, Michael Berthold, Deja Dee, Karen B. Greer, Mark Helms, Noah Hein, Bruce Henderson, Annie Jamison, Susan McPhail, Nick Morbitt, Dylan Odom, Lee Spencer, Rob Thomas and Raquel Aurora.

Screenplay by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.

Directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.

Distributed by Roadside Attractions. 97 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is an unexpectedly insightful and touching story while also managing to be a wild ride with big stakes and even bigger laughs.

I went into The Peanut Butter Falcon not expecting much, especially considering the title. I did not walk into that theater thinking I’d leave with a new perspective on life – but I did. The Peanut Butter Falcon is a movie with insight. It is a movie with intelligence. But even more than that it’s a movie that is real.

The characters feel real, like you could really meet them out in the world somewhere. As wild as the story does get, you never feel like anything that’s happening on screen is impossible or truly over the top. That’s very important when telling a story like this, maintaining that authenticity so the audience can always be emotionally connected to the story and its characters. The Peanut Butter Falcon did just that to a T.

The first thing that makes The Peanut Butter Falcon feel so authentic is its leading man Zak (Zack Gottsagen). Zak as a character, and as a real person, is someone with Downs Syndrome. You can tell the director trusted his experience and his judgement in communicating what living with Downs is like onto the screen. I don’t feel like Zack was interrupted much while filming this. The movie felt like we were just following around an actual person with the condition and seeing how they think, feel, and interact with the world.

That demonstrates the value and importance many people are placing on having people who have actually experienced something playing that on the big screen. As a viewer, I can’t help but think this movie would not have been the same if it wasn’t for the legitimate emotion and insight Zack was able to bring from the film from his real life experiences as someone living with Downs Syndrome.

Now in that same breath, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) is another extremely “real” and “authentic” character that I don’t think could of been played to that degree of reality by anybody but LaBeouf. Anyone who knows anything about Shia LaBeouf’s personality and personal life knows that he is a pretty volatile, uncompromising, and if we’re being honest, a person who definitely has their scars and damage.

That is exactly the character he plays  in The Peanut Butter Falcon. That’s a big part of this film’s genius – allowing the actor’s real personality and life experience to be a part of the way they portray their characters. It doesn’t always work out, but the casting director and director were both clearly very in sync with what they intended and it worked out beautifully. This film feels tangible, and it has the unadulterated realness of its two stars, and the rest of the cast, to thank for that.

Another genius aspect of The Peanut Butter Falcon would have to be how effortless it all feels. The story meshes laugh out loud funny moments and crazy adventures with practically heart-stopping moments of emotional insight and intimacy. That is not easy to do, and The Peanut Butter Falcon did it with grace. The movie didn’t feel like a comedy or a drama, it just felt like life. That’s what makes it so wonderful to watch.

There’s a lot more I’d love to say about The Peanut Butter Falcon, moments I loved or insights I’ll never forget, but I think that’d be a disservice to you. I went into this movie not knowing much and expecting even less. For a movie as shockingly good as this I really think that’s the way to go. I don’t want to spoil what this movie taught me, how it made me feel, and what it was like to experience it.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is truly unlike most films I’ve seen in years. It is a movie with a big heart and lessons to teach that does so without being heavy handed and obnoxious – in a time where that’s all we seem to get. It is a movie about Down Syndrome that involves crab boats, romance and professional wrestling. It is a movie you have to experience for yourself, so go to theaters today and experience The Peanut Butter Falcon! You won’t regret it.

Austin Gomberg

Copyright ©2019 All rights reserved. Posted: August 30, 2019.

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