2019 festival hit The Peanut Butter Falcon finally swoops into home release, following deserved critical acclaim and award wins. Star Zack Gottsagen even made history at the Oscars ceremony last night (9 February) as the first Oscars presenter with Down Syndrome, along with co-star Shia LaBeouf who appears to be on a comeback following this and Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy.
Directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon centres on 22 year old Zac, a wrestling fanatic who escapes from his care home in order to make his wrestling dreams come true. His path crosses with fisherman Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) as he also attempts to escape from his troubled past, with the two quickly developing a brotherly bond as they travel across the rivers and roads of the deep south on a fun filled journey of self discovery and atomic throws.
This road/rafting trip in the deep South is a wonderful adventure of redemption and brotherhood, as the two attempt to reach Salt Water Redneck’s (Thomas Haden Church) once famous training camp. Their journey is cleverly broken into episodic moments as they try and evade the authorities and Tyler’s rivals. The film probably features one of the most fun montages too as Tyler teachers Zac a number of survival skills including how to shoot, which results in a particularly hilarious flight!
Along with the many laughs, there’s also a lot of heartfelt and painful moments, as Zac teaches Tyler to believe in himself despite his disability “What does that have to do with your heart?”, while Zac learns to start living with his past actions, which are teased in fleeting but heartbreaking flashbacks. Despite not quite sticking the end, Nilson and Schwartz have crafted a delightful tale full of warmth and soul.
The film’s brought to life by a whole host of outstanding performances, both big and small, but newcomer Zack Gottsagen really does shine brightest! The actor brings a charming earnestness who, just like Tyler, you can’t help but utterly fall for. His comedic timing is also brilliant, along with his standout wrestling scene in the third act. He proves the heart of the film and a perfect counterpart to the emotional and raw turn from LaBeouf, who puts in his best performance since Borg Vs McEnroe.
The supporting cast are also brilliant, particularly Thomas Haden Church’s hilarious turn as hammy wrestling pro Salt Water Redneck and Dakota Johnson’s kind and caring Eleanor. Wayne Dehart also has a fabulous cameo as “Blind” Jasper John who appears to have an amusing hobby of baptising passersby.
The Peanut Butter Falcon really is one of the most heart warming, poignant & feel good films I’ve seen in a long time! The winning combination of Gottsagen’s Zak and LaBeouf’s Tyler brotherly relationship and optimistic outlook was like a giant hug. This is such a gem of an indie film that I unfortunately missed at the cinema, so make sure you don’t make the same mistake as me and catch this on it’s home release – or I won’t invite you to my birthday party!