By Taylor Linzinmeir, Contributor
[Roadhouse Attractions; 2019]
The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome who runs away from a nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. He eventually meets up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) who is also on the run from his own problems and who eventually becomes his informal coach as the two take a journey together to find the professional wrestling school of Zak’s idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).
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Many of the scenes in The Peanut Butter Falcon do not consist of inherently interesting events. In fact, they mostly consist of the characters walking or sitting around a campfire, broken up every so often with an intense encounter with either the people hunting them or the people helping them along their journey. Nevertheless, the film is captivating from beginning to end.
The relationship that evolves between Zak and Tyler, combined with dreamy cinematography, brings every scene to life. The soundtrack pairs beautifully with the light and airy cinematography, making viewers feel like they are living inside an exuberant, yet somehow down-to-earth, adventure novel.
Shia LaBeouf pulls off one of the greatest performances of his career in this film. His character isn’t always likable—his borderline harassment of Elenor (Dakota Johnson) in the gas station scene being the main example that comes to mind here—but LaBeouf makes viewers want to root for him anyway. He is quick and brash, yet in the next breath very authentic and emotional.
The same cannot be said for Dakota Johnson. Her performance is uncomfortable and emotionless. Almost every scene with her is awkward. The romance between Tyler and Elenor is equally as awkward and way too predictable, and it is not necessary to carry the plot whatsoever; it adds nothing to the film.
Though LaBeouf’s performance is impeccable and the movie is filled with a few big-name actors, the relationship between the two outlaw buddies and the debut performance by Zack Gottsagen is what really shines in The Peanut Butter Falcon. The men simultaneously change each other and are changed by their interactions with the people they meet during their exile, emphasizing the beauty found in the evolution of rich relationships.
A 9/10 might seem like a bit much, but this movie is truly filled with joy from the beginning to end. The Peanut Butter Falcon is for anyone who grew up loving movies like Stand By Me and The Goonies and wants to see a modern, feel-good adventure film filled with excitement, emotion and perfectly timed humor.
Watch the trailer here: