The Peanut Butter Falcon is a shining example of why I love film. This is the type of movie that will remind you why you go to the theater. Sometimes in the superhero/action heavy film line up, we get starved of endearing well told stories like this. Not only is this film extremely well written and acted, but it’s also very important. People with Down Syndrome have very little, basically zero representation in the media. It’s very refreshing to see this because it shows so tenderly that yes even people with disabilities can achieve dreams and live out their desires.
Shia Labeouf has been out of the film scene for a while and I was actually surprised to see his name associated with this. From the films of his I’ve seen in the past, I’ve always been a fan of him; he has talent. That undeniable talent of his is on display front and center here. Labeouf is the one who leads the story and becomes Zak’s biggest advocate.
Zak is played by Zack Gottsagen and I was very impressed with his performance. Zack has range in this performance due to his ability to be very funny and then have serious moments when talking about his past and hard road in life. The connection Shia and Zack form is truly remarkable. The joy they exude in scenes together will make your heart swell. I love that the filmmakers included scenes that detailed their bonding because that’s crucial to the feeling of the overall story.
In order for The Peanut Butter Falcon to work, the audience must buy into the relationships and feeling the story is putting forth. I’m so glad the writers cared enough to craft a script that loves each character and cares about their story. Dakota Johnson, who’s work I’ve loved after the Fifty Shades of S--t franchise (thank god she’s done with that) does a very commendable job at playing Eleanor. Eleanor is Zak’s main caretaker at the facility from which he escaped. At first she might seem like she’s just doing her job and trying to keep Zak at the facility because she has to, but I saw the love she has for him from the beginning. Her character loves Zak and just wants to do what’s best for him as a person, and while she wishes he didn’t have to live in that facility, she thinks it’s the only safe option for him. Seeing her let her hair down and eventually join Zak and Tyler (Shia Labeouf) is really great because they work so well as a group.
The script allows for us to know certain things about each character that helps us see them better and appreciate the story more. The things we learn about Zak’s past are especially valuable because while he might not lead us through the story, it’s his. This film revolves around him and the dreams he’s set out to achieve and the wonderful friends he has to support him. There’s a line in the script that comes up several times that I really loved and it served a crucial purpose in the story. It’s first said by the ever talented Bruce Dern: “friends are the family we choose”. This is so necessary in this film and it’s also just a very true statement. Sometimes in life, your best friends become your family and that’s just one of the beautiful things this film has to offer.
The Peanut Butter Falcon tells such a tender story that revolves around one main character but ultimately ends up being about all three main characters. The writing is superb, the acting is extremely strong, and the story that’s told will remind you not to forget about smaller films like these. I’ve found the best film of the year so far.