This one will stick to the roof of your mouth, in a good way
As summer movie season winds down, can we give it up for a movie like “The Peanut Butter Falcon”?
It’s a small-scale adventure among would-be blockbusters. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in heart.
Granted, this big heart covers for some rough patches, but if you’re on its wavelength, this is a movie you should go see and support while it’s in theaters.
Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is a young man with Down syndrome who lives in an assisted-living facility in small-town North Carolina.
Abandoned by his family, Zak lives in this old folks’ home because there’s nowhere for him to go. He’s under the watchful but patient eye of his caretaker, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson).
Zak is also obsessed with an aged VHS tape advertisement for a pro-wrestling school operated by his favorite wrestler, the Salt-Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).
Eventually, Zak decides to follow his wrestling dreams and breaks out of the facility (with some help from his elderly friends). Once out, he randomly encounters Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a hot-headed fisherman who is also on the lam.
Of course, an unlikely friendship ensues and Tyler agrees to help Zak on his journey to find the Salt-Water Redneck.Sign up for our newsletter in a "Jif" and get access to both grown-up features and lighter pieces that can entertain your inner "Peter Pan." What say you, "Skippy"? Peanut butter, peanut butter. Sign up for our daily newsletter
Co-writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz craft a whimsical adventure in the vein of a Mark Twain story. The encounters made by Tyler and Zak involve peril, faith, whiskey and more.
Newcomer Gottsagen anchors the warmth with a winning performance that’s alternately funny and sweet. He shares a winning chemistry with LaBeouf, whom we have to admit is becoming one of the finest actors of his generation, as well as one willing to take a chance on a movie like this.
There’s great support from the likes of Bruce Dern, scene-stealing as a curmudgeonly old man, the always superb John Hawkes as the de facto villain, and more.
The story is guilty of predictability, but it’s a minor issue, as is a typically underdeveloped (and unnecessary) romance that evolves.
When you name your movie “The Peanut Butter Falcon” (Zak’s planned wrestling name, by the way), you are announcing that you’re a quirky indie. But the joys this movie brings will stick to the roof of your mouth.