The Peanut Butter Falcon

The Peanut Butter Falcon ★★★★

"You got a good-guy heart. You can't do shit about it, that's just who you are. You're a hero."

A charming, modern day fable that's both simplistic and layered, and certainly one of the sweetest, most wholesome films I've had the pleasure of enjoying, Tyler Nilson's and Michael Schwartz's 'The Peanut Butter Falcon' couples fantastic actors with first-timer Zack Gottsagen, a kind soul with Down syndrome who brings a determined, larger than life world view to his character. As he flees his care home with one goal - to meet the Salt Water Redneck, his personal hero and favorite wrestler - he quickly runs into Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), who is running from his own problems.

The two quickly, believably bond and form their own tight knit brotherhood amidst adversity, nastiness and revenge. Hot on their heels, aside from some local fisherman who have a newfound ire thanks to Tyler, is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), Zak's caretaker who is looking to bring him home. She's easily the most unnecessary part of the film; her character gives Tyler another reason to grow, forgive himself and find a new love of life but it feels quite shoehorned and superfluous when the friendship between Tyler and Zak is so intriguing, heartfelt and sincere.

The performances here are lovely, true, and healthy - everybody here just feels so honest and happy to be a part of the production, LaBeouf especially, who is always brilliant in his work, and I'd be surprised if he and Zak didn't continue their friendship long after the cameras stopped rolling. It's quite the atmospheric film, too, as we're treated to the endless marshes and beaches of Savannah, Georgia and even North Carolina, all tied together nicely with tunes encompassing the folk, bluegrass and spiritual genres, all fitting wonderfully in their respective scenes. Kudos also go to the old-time real life wrestlers who appear in some cameos here, some more obvious than others. As a fan of wrestling growing up, it was a delight to see, just as much as watching Zak's journey to the ring was.

Despite the misfortunes that the characters are forced to endure, this really is a nourishing and pleasant experience. The delight in the faces of Shia and Zack is such a treat and it's easy to tell that most of their reactions and moments together are in the moment and genuine. I do wish they had focused even more heavily on the two instead of trying to infuse the experience with some romance, but it's so commonplace these days that it doesn't surprise me. It doesn't detract from the film as a whole too much and all in all, it's extremely adorable and appealing.

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