The Peanut Butter Falcon is an outstanding example of how filmmakers can make an in-the-moment crowd-pleaser and push it towards being a timeless classic. Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a road movie that plays as a contemporary take on American fables; filled with recovering characters that are all endearing in their own ways.
After making numerous failed attempts to escape his nursing home, Zak (played by newcomer Zack Gottsagen) succeeds with a breakout and confides in a freewheeling fisherman, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf). Tyler, on the run from his own mischief, is begrudging at first but soon warms up to Zak’s helplessness and sincere personality. Considering that Tyler also takes notice of the lack of sympathy the runaway receives, because of Zak’s Down syndrome, Tyler identifies with Zak’s underdog qualities. While the two misfits travel together, a caretaker from the nursing home, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), performs her own personal search party to bring Zak home.
The three leads (LaBeouf, Johnson, Gottsagen) are gems, but Gottsagen steals our heart. The performance is the perfect combination of a newly-minted performer finding genuine moments in a scene, followed by thoughtful filmmakers finding the most sincere ways to utilize the newcomer’s innate authenticity. The same can be said about the charming, sometime eccentric, bit players who saunter through the film’s journey. Johnson elaborates on the film’s token female role with charm and humour, while LaBeouf (who develops his career with each role he plays) shows maturity we haven’t seen from the actor before. His companionship with Gottsagen rides a lovely line between friendship and parenthood with each heartfelt, honest interaction.
Movies don’t get much more authentic, or welcoming, than The Peanut Butter Falcon – a movie that could perhaps be the best film of the year.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie