The Peanut Butter Falcon puts a fleeing young man with Down Syndrome, a fleeing small time crook, and a care home worker into an adventure about coming of age, finding your chosen family, and floating down river on a raft. There are some minor spoilers ahead.
The Peanut Butter Falcon has a number of big name stars, but the real star of the film is Zack Gottsagen as Zak. Zak has Down Syndrome. He dreams of being a badass wrestler. He watches a video cassette of a minor celebrity named Salt Water Redneck advertising his wresting school about 10 times a day.
Zak lives in a nursing home. He has no family. His roommate is Carl (Bruce Dern). Carl is sympathetic toward Zak’s desire to leave the nursing home and become a badass wrestler. He helps him escape.
Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) works in the nursing home and is the one who cares for Zak. Her boss sends her after him. She works her way toward the place the old videotape talked about as the home of the wrestling school.
While the Zak situation gets underway, we meet Tyler (Shia LaBeouf). He steals crabs, gets caught, sets some stuff on fire, and takes off running.
Some very mad fellas are after Tyler. Zak is hiding in the boat that Tyler takes off with.
Tyler never treats Zak as disabled, never babies him. He teaches him all sorts of things like how to swim. He helps him head toward the wresting school owned by Salt Water Redneck. Zak chooses Peanut Butter Falcon as his badass wrestler name.
About that time Eleanor catches up with them. Instead of taking Zak back to the nursing home, she is convinced to join the adventure. Well, maybe not convinced convinced. But she’s not leaving Zak behind.
The guys chasing Tyler get ever closer. When the trio finally reach Salt Water Redneck, he’s dirt poor Clint (Thomas Haden Church) and doesn’t wrestle anymore.
Clint rallies for Zak. Zak has that effect on people. Clint puts on his old Redneck costume and shows Zak some moves. The Peanut Butter Falcon isn’t a bad wrestler, actually.
I won’t tell you how the story ends, but I think you can guess it’s going to be a heartwarming finale to this charming and heartwarming adventure.
This is a man’s man kind of tale with tramping through fields, building rafts, catching fish barehanded, and shooting a gun. I wish Dakota Johnson got to do more and be more, but I didn’t mind one second of the time spent with Zak learning that he could find a family and a life outside of an institution.
The actors were all good as you would expect. Zack Gottsagen was terrific and I hope to see him get more roles. The cinematography was outstanding – gorgeous shots of the river and the surrounding scenery, which was meant to be North Carolina and points south.
Have a look at the trailer. The film is streaming on Hulu.
Have you seen this warm hearted film? What did you think of it?