'The Peanut Butter Falcon' (2019) - Film Review
Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
"Maybe we could be friends and buddies.. bro dogs.. and chill. Have a good time!"
The Peanut Butter Falcon follows Zack (Zack Gottsagen), a man who has Down syndrome, as he runs away from the nursing home where he lives to pursue a career in pro wrestling.
- Set in the swampy outer banks of North Carolina, Zack meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a troubled thief and fisherman on the run from local crabbers,for a sour incident that went down at a local dock.
- Tyler agrees to help Zack get to Saltwater Redneck's (Zack's favourite wrestler) wrestling school in North Carolina and they go on a journey of self-discovery, friendship, and build a relationship like no other.
- Hot on their heels is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zack's caretaker and friend who is concerned for his well being and safety.
- The movie follows Zack and Tyler as they they represent the importance of when friends become your family. It also holds a great message as the film doesn't pander to Zack. It focuses on him as a human being rather than his disability.
Positives of 'The Peanut Butter Falcon'
- I had a smile on my face for the entirety of this movie and it's arguably the sweetest movie I've seen. The acting in this film is outstanding and we as an audience care so much about the characters. The screenplay is witty and engaging, which creates a hilarious comedic effect throughout the film. It really is a simple but effective film, which really hits home the issues people with Down syndrome must endure.
- Relationship between Tyler and Zack - The movie pretty much hinges on the chemistry between these two characters and they absolutely knock it out of the park. They are so believable that you would think that they have been friends for years. If the audience doesn't buy into the chemistry or feel the emotional connection between them, then movie doesn't really have much to go off of. However, the storytelling and acting is just sublime and this is not an issue.
- Comedy - This was my favourite aspect of this movie as it is hilarious. It was so funny because the humour isn't forced, it feels organic and real. You forget that you are watching a film, which is a testament to its screenplay, as it flows perfectly and is quite frankly gut-busting with humour.
- Cinematography - I absolutely love it when a film can immerse the audience into the movie. In this film, you can really feel the setting. It is beautifully shot with incredible scenery of the countryside. Nigel Bluck was in charge of the cinematography and his perfect control of backlit lighting never makes the movie feel artificial or fake. There is a scene on a raft which perfectly captures Zack and Tyler's voyage. It's about what is front of them, not behind, and the French over shot, is used perfectly to capture this.
- The Message - The message that this films delivers, expertly, is what resonated with the me the most. Zack isn't treated any differently to any of the actors in this movie. It doesn't talk down to him, its a very respectful and realistic depiction of his character. There is a scene where Tyler infers that people might not be saying certain derogatory words to abuse Zack. But people still treat him that way, and it was such a powerful statement that I had to take a minute to really comprehend. Even if people are doing it knowingly or unknowingly, he should be treated as a person first and not pandered to.
"Friends are the family you choose"
Performances of Note
The acting in this movie is one of the many amazing aspects of this film as everyone puts in a fantastic performance. Without the realistic depiction that all the actors display, I do not believe the film would have found the success that it has.
- Zack Gottsagen - It would be impossible to talk about the acting without discussing Zack Gottsagen. He is mesmerizing and is the driving force of this film. His sense of comedic timing is superb. He would pause at certain moments to drop his lines and deliver them all at the right moment. The chemistry he builds with not only LaBeouf but all of the actors in this film is clear to see. Whenever Zack is in a scene, you cannot take your eyes away from the screen and he manages to capture your emotions, in a way that not many actors can. Sublime.
- Shia LaBeouf - This is the best acting, I have ever seen from LaBeouf. He delivers such a heartfelt and complex performance. The tragedy he has suffered in his life is resonated on his face throughout the first act of the movie. He then captures the effect Zack is having on him so perfectly on screen. LaBeouf and Gottsagen have become really close in real life and it is no surprise as their on-screen chemistry is electric.
- Dakota Johnson - I think she is a brilliant actress and her depiction as Zack's caretaker is incredible. She is so worried about Zack and cares for him so much that she sometimes treats him in a way that may undermine him. You are visibly able to see this change in outlook that her character (Eleanor) has. It further floors you, as the audience, because there may have been times in your life when you have treated a person with a disability in this way. It really hits home the message that people with a disability should be treated as a person first.
"You might not be saying the word, retard, I'll give you that, but you're damn sure making him feel retarded"
Negatives of 'The Peanut Butter Falcon'
- I have nothing negative to say about this film. The only aspect of this movie, for me, that could be questioned is its credibility. There are some sections of this film where it doesn't seem believable. However, I instantly overlooked it as I was so invested in the characters that I didn't really care. I cared too much about the story to even let it slightly diminish my opinion of this film. This may not be the same for other people that see this movie and they could see this a negative. Although, I did not.
"Tyler, I am going to give you all of my wishes, on my birthday"
This is one of my favourite films I have ever seen. It is so fun, heartfelt, funny and everything you want in a feel good film. I don't know if I have ever felt so much empathy for characters and been so invested in a story before, you're literally willing and wishing everything to happen the way that Zack and Tyler want it to. The message it sends was the most surprising aspect of this movie and resonated with me so much. It has 100% helped me to look at people with disabilities in a different light, and I cannot wait to see Zack Gottsagen in other movies. What a film!