Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is a young man with down syndrome who has no caregiver and is stuck by the state in an old age home to get the supervision he needs. Zak is enormously bored by the dull life in the home, where he only has elderly folks to interact with, including his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern). Zak plans multiple jail break escapes and finally succeeds. On the road to find his hero “The Salt Water Redneck” (Thomas Haden Church) Zak encounters Tyler (Shia LaBoeuf). While initially reticent to help Zak because he is trying to escape troubles of his own, Tyler agrees to help him get to the Salt Water Redneck’s compound as he makes his way to Jupiter Florida to start a new life. Meanwhile, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a staffer from the old age home and the only person who really cares about Zak, is trying to hunt him down before he hurts himself or gets lost in the wilds.
The Production: 3.5/5
Started as a response to its star’s inquiry: “Why has nobody made any movies starring people like me who have Down Syndrome”, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a showcase for the ingenuity and charisma that Zack brings to the table. He can really act, and he convincingly portrays Zak with heart and humanity. His costars are all in too, with LaBoeuf proving again (see Fury) that he’s grounded and empathetic, a long ways from Transformers days. Church’s Redneck echoes The Wrestler, with an athlete long past his prime but still able to exhibit what he loved about his profession, even if it’s to a much smaller audience. Saying Johnson is a long ways from 50 shades territory is an understatement as well.
In many ways TPBF is a modern take on Huck Finn, two fish out of water doing what they can to escape the troubles that keep following them. They encounter rapscallions and enter grace at the hands of a blind country preacher. They get drunk on moonshine and dance around primordial fires. Zak attains his dream of learning to wrestle, and does so in front of an audience. Tyler learns he doesn’t have to be alone in the world. Eleanor learns just how much Zak means to her and what she would do to protect him.
All in all it’s pretty sweet, if a bit straight forward.
3D Rating: NA
As an indy production TPBF shows above its weight on screen. Scenes are sharp and sun drenched, just like the characters. Colors are a bit muted despite the light, showcasing the lower end of the income that all of the characters are in, from Zak’s empty pockets to Tyler’s fish-monger outfits. Despite its provenance there’s no artifacts, undue grain, or ringing. It looks great for its presumed budget.
Mostly front heavy dialogue and music with a few shotgun blasts and a few pistol shots ringing out in the surrounds.
It’s not designed to be a sonic experience but a character driven one, and for that it does fine. There is one scene in the rain where dialogue gets a bit muddy.
Special Features: 3/5
The Making of The Peanut Butter Falcon (HD 6:00) – Worthy but entirely too short. Lots of raves for Zack’s performance but not a lot of actual details about the real challenges that he and the rest of cast and crew had to deal with to get it right.
Overall I found The Peanut Butter Falcon to be charming and uplifting, with just the right amount of drama caused by the hornets nest Zak and Tyler stirred up tracking them down. The whole point was to give a voice to a section of the population that so far has not had a chance to see one of their own as a hero, and TPBF does just that all the way.B07Y9BGNSP