By Matt Pascarella
Run time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
If you could use a feel-good movie, then look no further than “The Peanut Butter Falcon”. It is a story of friendship, acceptance and breaking the mold.
Zak (Zack Gottsagen) loves wrestling, has down syndrome and lives in a nursing home. His ultimate goal is to meet wrestler ,The Salt Water Redneck, who has a wrestling school and produces a video from that venue. Zak watches this video.
Zak has made several attempts to escape the nursing home, but always gets caught. Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), an employee of the assisted living facility, has told Zak he can’t keep doing this. This doesn’t stick with Zak. One night with the help of his roommate, Carl (Bruce Dern), Zak is able to escape without being caught. Zak hides in fisherman’s boat.
That fisherman, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) is struggling to make a living with his career as an angler. He recently lost his brother and he steals the traps of some other fishermen, Duncan (John Hawkes) and Ratboy (Yelawolf). Things get worse when, later, he sets their traps on fire. Duncan and Ratboy chase after Tyler and he runs away from them and to his boat. Be when Tyler arrives, he is unaware Zak is hiding in his boat. Once Tyler discovers Zak is in his boat, he agrees to let him tag along. Tyler is going to Florida and Zak is going to North Carolina, home of The Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school. Tyler is sort of mean to Zak when they first meet. Zak tells Tyler ‘I want you to know about me; I am a down syndrome person.’
Tyler stops at a convenience store and inadvertently meets Eleanor, who is looking for Tyler after her boss, Glen (Lee Spencer) tells her to find Zak after refusing to report Zak missing. Tyler sees if there is a reward for Zak, but never fully admits to knowing where he is.
Tyler tells Zak he saw Eleanor and she’s looking for him. After this, a friendship begins to develop between Zak and Tyler.
Tyler encourages Zak and teaches him how to swim. You also learn some of Tyler’s backstory. The two meet Jasper (Wayne Dehart), a clergyman who lets Zak and Tyler build a raft. One night, they practice wrestling moves and Zak dubs himself ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon.’
Eleanor eventually finds Zak and tells him they need to go back to the nursing home. Zak tells her he wants to see The Salt Water Redneck. After some disagreeing, Eleanor joins the group and actually has fun.
Later, Jasper and Ratboy set their raft on fire. They threaten Tyler and Zak comes to his aid.
What will happen to the Tyler, Zak and Eleanor?
Will Zak meet the Salt Water Redneck?
Will he have to go back to the nursing home?
With an energetic soundtrack and uplifting story, this movie will put a smile on your face. It’s funny and the end was unexpected. I hope we see more movies with Zack Gottsagen because he was fantastic and I am not a Shia LeBeouf fan, but he was pretty good in this. With so much negativity out there, this movie will give you a glimpse of hope. Highly worth the rental; two peanut butter covered wrestling masks way up.