The Peanut Butter Falcon
Starring Shia Lebeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern,
This was the movie Shia LeBeouf was most recently arrested, drunk in the street of Atlanta. It’s also the film, co-star Dakota Johnson says changed his life. The Peanut Butter Falcon has an odd name but it’s folksy delivery makes it quite often a charming film despite it’s raggedy appearance. A story of friendship in the most unlikely of places, The Peanut Butter Falcon is the first feature film from Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. They have corralled an all star supporting cast around newcomer Zack Gottsagen, the films real star. Despite his on and off screen antics and a turbulent personal life that always seems out of control, LeBeouf delivers a performance that reminds us why we liked him in the first place. Light fare in every since of the word, The Peanut Butter Falcon doesn’t leave a lasting impression as it’s ultimate goal is a feel good misfit adventure.
No parents, guardians or family, Zak (Gottsagen) has been placed in a retirement home on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Born with down syndrome, he doesn’t understand why he must live in a home for the elderly and dying. “Friends are the family you choose”, Carl (Dern) tells Zak before aiding in his latest escape plan. After multiple attempts, Zak is free and meets up with a local homeless man named Tyler (LeBeouf), on the run for destroying local fisherman’s equipment. The unlikely pair traverse the riverbanks, one on his way to Florida to start a new life, the other dreaming of training with local wrestling legend Salt Water Redneck (Church). Tyler teaches Zak to swim and fight while Zak teaches him the meaning of friendship.
The back and forth between reality and heightened storytelling is a good fit for a film running only 90 minutes.
The Peanut Butter Falcon toggles between endearment and complete silliness. Nilson and Schwartz write themselves into a corner multiple times, getting out of each jam with some folk tale character that’s equally charming and worth an eye roll. The back and forth between reality and heightened storytelling is a good fit for a film running only 90 minutes. The Peanut Butter Falcon is reminiscent of The Cure (1993), another water-rafting adventure story with the currency of friendship. Despite being shot on the coast of Georgia, the script does nail some North Carolina dialogue and native traits. The word “swig” as referring to “a sip”. The entire scene between Tyler and a local convenience story owner is one of the films most authentic moments.
“You will have to excuse me for starring miss, but you are one of the most beautiful women I’ve seen in a long time,”. It’s not just that she is pretty, Dakota Johnson provides the audience with a much needed clean body after watching the two men live among the mud and muck for the majority of the story. You can almost smell them through the screen. Johnson serves as both the mother figure and the love interest. It’s one of her most down to earth and gentle performances. It’s best not to think too much outside of what’s shown on screen, you can easily come up with plot holes and characters that serve no real purpose, like John Hawkes wasted performance or Jon Bernthal’s zero dialogue performance.
An endearing friendship folk tale that’s so lite hearted it’s also forgettable.