Over the past several years, I had lost respect for actor Shia LaBeouf. But after how heartfelt and touching The Peanut Butter Falcon was, I am starting to have faith in him again. The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of the most inspirational, funny, but also sad films about what it means to give others who struggle in this world something to be proud of. The Peanut Butter Falcon displays a positive message for those who have a learning disability or are born with a condition that presents challenges to various elements in their life. Shia LaBeouf plays the role model for the actor, Zack Gottsagen, who was born with Down syndrome. The film brings us on a journey of two different people as they grow a relationship that is empowering for them both.
The Peanut Butter Falcon gears on Zak (Gottsagen), a boy with Down syndrome with no family, or any form of support so has spent most of his life in a care facility. He has one obsession and passion and that is wrestling. His case manager, Eleanor (played by Dakota Johnson) has faith in him and cares for him, but in the beginning does not try to encourage him to go out in the world. Zak receives bad advice from the other patients at the facility and decided to escape. As he flees, he ends up in the boat that belongs to a man that is trying to get away from problems of his own. That man is Tyler (LaBeouf) and they meet unexpectedly when Tyler finds Zak hiding in his speed boat. Zak tells Tyler he wants to go to a small town in Florida to find his favorite wrestling icon and learn how to wrestle from him. Tyler is hesitant and a jerk in the beginning, but he begins to realize how Zak is treated unfairly. Therefore, he agrees to go on this risky, yet crazy journey with Zak. The film becomes a touching friendship story that will leave viewers in tears.
What I loved about The Peanut Butter Falcon is how it displays the message of never giving up and having more faith in those who are limited in life. I admit, I speak from experience. I was not so involved in activities in younger days until my Mom encouraged me to come out of my shell and to start acting. From that point on, I have always been a theatre and film enthusiast, and have found many forms of the arts that inspire and entertain me. I am also now growing a loyal fan base by writing film reviews and sharing my reflections with others. Based on my own life experience, The Peanut Butter Falcon’s message to do what makes you happy and work to reach your personal goals really resonated. Zak’s goal is to feel like a champion, and Tyler helps him achieve it by encouraging him to stay in the present and not the past. He encourages Zak to overcome his fears, including the fear of people putting him down. During the film, Zak overcomes many obstacles that will leave viewers in astonishment.
One of the things I found most touching and important about the film were the moments where Tyler stands up for Zak when he is called retarded or stupid. In this world, people are so negative and cruel, however, Tyler wants Zak to have the mindset where he feels his dream can come true. This film is like Rain Man (1988) meets Martian Child (2007). That is because Tyler and Zak are on a journey, and Zak wants to view himself as a pro wrestler. The idea may seem silly or stupid to others, but it is what makes Zak feel he has a purpose to fulfill. This is such an important message for people in this world who have learning disabilities. Because if they do not have hope, then they do not have many days that are uplifting for them. And, everyone in this world deserves to be recognized for their strong qualities.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is by far one of the best independent films I have seen this summer. It is a film that is sad at moments but is purely positive. Viewers will laugh, they will cry, and they will just be touched. I even believe it is one of those movies where it can be positive for those who are in a similar situation as Zak. It demonstrates they too have talents, and are capable, if they can find the way to put their mind to it. Tyler helps Zak out to the max which helps Zak not be afraid of the things that have always frightened him. The Peanut Butter Falcon deserves four stars.