The Peanut Butter Falcon, rated PG-13
The Peanut Butter Falcon is a well-acted and heartwarming film, though it is somewhat marred by adult language. The film is co-directed and co-written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.
Zac, played by Zack Gottsagen, is 22 years old and has Down Syndrome. He lives in a retirement home since his family abandoned him. He has never had any friends, and would like friends that he could call family. Zac repeatedly watches old wrestling videos from Salt Water Redneck, played by Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), and wants to attend the wrestler’s school advertised in the video. As a result, Zac repeatedly tries to escape forcing Eleanor, a compassionate worker who works at the facility, played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Gray), to label him as a flight risk.
Zac rooms with Carl, played by two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Coming Home) in a small role. Carl complains about having to watch the wrestling video all day, but ends up helping Zac to escape the facility one night, with Zac leaving barefoot and wearing only his underwear. When Eleanor finds out, she is sent by her supervisor to find Zac and bring him back.
Zac ends up taking shelter under the tarp of a boat belonging to Tyler, played by Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), a crab fisherman who is having conflict with a fellow fisherman named Duncan, played by Oscar nominee John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone). After Tyler sets fire to some of Duncan’s fishing equipment, he goes on the run towards Florida, chased by Duncan and his people through the tributaries of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. It is only then that he discovers that Zac is on his boat.
After a rough beginning, the two begin to bond. Zac tells Tyler that his goal is to get to Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school. Tyler is troubled by something he was responsible for that happened in the past. We see Zac showing Tyler unconditional love. At the same time, we see Tyler encouraging Zac and treating him like a person, instead of someone to take care of.
Content issues in the film include some violence and a significant amount of adult language, including some abuses of God’s name. Themes in the film include family, friendship, hope and love.
The film includes a surprising amount of Christian content – in one particular character, a baptism and in the bluegrass, country and gospel songs. The movie is beautifully filmed by cinematographer Nigel Bluck. It is driven by strong acting performances, particularly by Gottsagen and LaBeouf. The two, along with Johnson, have excellent chemistry on film.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is an excellent film driven by strong acting performances, that is somewhat marred by some adult language. The best parts of the film are the interaction between Gottsagen and LaBeouf.