I’m just going to come right out and say it: “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is one of the sweetest movies I have ever seen. The film was directed by Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz and stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson and Zack Gottsagen, and follows Zack (Gottsagen), a man with Down syndrome, as he escapes from the retirement home where he stays in search of his favorite wrestler and idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). On his journey he meets Tyler (LaBeouf), a fisherman who is also on the run from associates of his after a certain incident occurs. Tyler agrees to escort Zack further south to find the Salt Water Redneck so Zack can achieve his dream of becoming a wrestler. If you couldn’t tell by the opening sentence, I adore this movie.
The performances are exceptional and what truly keep this movie afloat. Shia LaBeouf delivers what is absolutely his best performance and should be given an Oscar nomination. My only real flaw with the movie is one that Shia LaBeouf creates by being so good. Intercut throughout most of Tyler’s scenes are short flashbacks that show Tyler and his brother together. These moments are fine in the grand scheme of things and don’t detract much, but I think LaBeouf is so good, that you can tell how troubled his past is just by looking at him without the flashbacks. Just the way he carries himself and grows to love Zack is so raw and a true reminder of the talent that LaBeouf has.
LaBeouf is Oscar worthy, but the scene stealer is Zack Gottsagen and it’s not even really a competition. Gottsagen is a rockstar and commands the screen with every scene he’s in. His actions are so pure and his chemistry with Shia LaBeouf is outstanding. He’s also the funniest part of the movie. His comedic timing is spot on at all times. This movie doesn’t work without Zack and he played his part to perfection.
What makes “The Peanut Butter Falcon” such an effortlessly enjoyable watch is how it always has its mind on how it’s treating its characters without compromising its heart. It is very mature with how it treats Zack and how other characters may treat him. Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zack’s caregiver who is tracking him down, has a tendency to treat Zack more like a child because of his disability, while Tyler only has his mind set on the dream Zack has to become a wrestler. Eleanor and Tyler have two especially great moments where they talk about Zack and what he needs, both of which struck a chord with me. The film is powerful in what is trying to say without ever losing this sense of adventure and joy that should come along with it.
Overall, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is one of 2019’s best films and one you need to see. If not for its beautiful cinematography and well-paced narrative, definitely see it for the excellent performances and chemistry between the entire cast. It’s the most heartfelt movie I have seen in a long time.