The Peanut Butter Falcon

Critics Consensus

A feelgood adventure brought to life by outstanding performances, The Peanut Butter Falcon finds rich modern resonance in classic American fiction.

95%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 137

96%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 3,736
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Movie Info

A modern Mark Twain style adventure story, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON tells the story of Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak's unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak's return, to join them on their journey.

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Critic Reviews for The Peanut Butter Falcon

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (19) | Fresh (130) | Rotten (7)

Audience Reviews for The Peanut Butter Falcon

  • Sep 02, 2019
    BUDDY SLAM - My Review of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON (3 1/2 Stars) Sometimes, you can tell from the opening moments of a movie if a filmmaker has "it". The Peanut Butter Falcon begins with Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome, attempting to escape from an advanced age care facility in North Carolina. He conspires with an elderly woman, who pretends to choke on her pudding, to distract the security staff as he makes a run for it. Just outside the door, he gets tackled out of nowhere, and the film cuts to black. In this sequence alone, we learn so much about our main character and the filmmaking style tells us that Tyler Wilson and Michael Schwartz have made an auspicious feature debut. Zak dreams of a better life for himself. Despite the loving care he receives from Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a case manager at the facility, he dreams of a career as a professional wrestler. He obsessively watches an old VHS cassette of his hero, the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), hoping to one day enroll in his Alabama wrestling school. Played by the remarkable Zack Gottsagen, Zak eventually does escape, with the help of his roommate Carl (a terrific cameo by Bruce Dern) and stows away on a small boat. Meanwhile, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a crab fisherman, has his own set of issues. With his brother recently killed, he struggles to make ends meet, commits robbery and arson against a couple of bullying rivals (John Hawkes as Duncan and Yelawolf as Ratboy), and plots his own escape to Florida via the same boat on which Zak hides. Their chance encounter leads to a Huckleberry Finn-style odyssey as they make their way through the Deep South and form a deep bond. With Eleanor charged with finding Zak and the bad guys hunting Tyler, we have a fairly propulsive storyline yet the film finds a gentle rhythm nonetheless. The filmmakers, along with their extremely talented cinematographer Nigel Bluck, create one incredible image after another, giving us a perfect sense of time and place. I particularly loved when Tyler eludes the bad guys, a superbly suspenseful boat sequence which expertly lets us know where everyone is and uses silence and smart film editing to tell the story. Shots of our leads sitting on a dock or sweetly patting each other on the face go a long way toward seducing the audience with its laconic yet playful tone. Gottsagen gives a commanding, nuanced performance, never allowing his disability to turn the storytelling into treacle. He has such surprising moments of humor, loneliness and frustration. All three of those come together when he stops an impatient Tyler from marching to shout at him, "I want you to know about me!" His presence clearly had an effect on his co-stars, as LaBeouf has never been better, more focused. He and Gottsagen have such a believable, natural chemistry, and it's almost completely devoid of the cheap sentimentality which tends to deify a person with a disability. Zak can be a total asshole sometimes, and I'm so grateful the film makes room for it. Johnson also seems looser, more at ease than I've ever seen before. She gives a warm, but appropriately prickly performance. It's ultimately a tale about three lonely misfits who yearn to connect. We go on this journey with some well-realized montages and a strong sense of purpose. Although somewhat episodic in nature, you won't soon forget the scene on the dock where Tyler confronts a mean little kid, or the flustered store owner who tallies Tyler's bill. Is it just me, or does every good movie have a flustered store owner? I'm talking to you Paper Moon and No Country For Old Men! Even the name of the film thankfully comes from a smart, unpretentious place, but frankly it had me worried. Some indies go for ponderous, impenetrable titles. The Myth Of Fingerprints, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), or Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, anyone? Luckily, The Peanut Butter Falcon mostly stays on its sweet, simple course. Unfortunately, the film gets a little rushed and sloppy in its final act, delivering on its wrestling premise but shortchanging some of the narrative threads which could have landed the film a little more smoothly. The straightforward, generous style gives way to blackouts and fakeouts which come across as stylistic distractions. It's a minor complaint for a film with such heart, spirit and refusal to go all sappy on us.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Aug 28, 2019
    It's a beguiling little buddy movie about a wrestling fan with Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) escaping his care facility, joining forces with a runaway screw-up (Shia LaBeouf) in over his head, and the nursing home assistant (Dakota Fanning) looking to find her charge so they can all sail down the river and meet an old wrestling coach (Thomas Haden Church) who may or may not exist. It's an episodic journey that hearkens to Mark Twain and 90s indie cinema with its unorthodox family dynamics. The real pleasure of the movie is watching LaBeouf and newcomer Gottsagen bond, whether it be building a raft, channeling larger-than-life wrestling personas, running away from a vengeful criminal (John Hawkes), getting baptized by a blind man, and simply finding time to become friends. It's one of those "journey, not the destination" films because by the end The Peanut Butter Falcon is nice but rather unremarkable. It's amusing and sweet but the advertising was filled with heightened exclamations such as, "The sweetest damn film of the decade." As I sat in my theater, I was wondering if there was something wrong with my ticker; it wasn't exactly feeling too full from the onscreen proceedings. It felt like there were core elements here that could have been further built upon, further developed, to turn The Peanut Butter Falcon from a relatively good movie into a great one. It's well acted and the photography of the South can be gorgeous. LaBeouf (American Honey) is genuinely terrific and carries the movie on his back as a beleaguered soul still wounded from personal tragedy. The way he becomes the biggest supporter and advocate for his new friend is heartening without feeling overly trite or saccharine. However, by the end, I didn't feel too uplifted or moved by the accumulative adventures. I enjoyed myself, but much like a Twain story, it's more the teller than the tale, and by its winding conclusion I felt like there was too much left behind unexplored. Nate's Grade: B-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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