Taking its inspiration from films like "Rain Man" and "Forest Gump", and mixing it up with a big dose of Southern Fried Buddy Road Picture, actually puts "The Peanut Butter Falcon" into its own genre, while still maintaining the retro feel of something familiar we can all identify with.
Nilson and Schwartz, first-time feature co-directors, did a great job of setting up the film's Deep South tone, holding the audience's attention with an anything could happen vibe, and keeping us viewers invested in the story, despite the dangers surrounding the two main characters.
Here's The Storyline…
Tyler (Shia LaBeouf; Transformers), is an outlaw fisherman on the run from two dangerous men whose crab traps he poached and destroyed. Zak (Zack Gottsagen), is a young man with Down syndrome, who has just escaped from a residential nursing home where the State has placed him, to follow his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. When a strange turn of events pairs the two on the road, Tyler becomes Zack's unlikely ally and life-coach.
Together they travel down back roads, drift down rivers, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, and catch fish as they move toward two goals, the professional wrestling school of Zack's idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church; Wings), and the small Florida town where Tyler hopes to find honest work.
Along the way, they convince Eleanor (Dakota Johnson, Push), the caring nursing home employee charged with returning Zak to the facility, to join them on their journey.
You'll find the acting in this film to be superb, completely believable even though very few events that would seem rather improbable.
Just when I thought we'd counted him out, Shia LaBeouf pops up again to prove he's one of the finest actors of our time. His nuanced performance here is so consummate he actually fades away into the part. If he ever gets out of his own way; he was publicly arrested for drunk and disorderly behavior during filming, he might have a real chance at the brilliant future that can await him.
As for the amazing Zack Gottsagen, a real Down syndrome actor, he'll just steal your heart with his performance. Unabashed and uninhibited, he eats up the material better than most non-challenged actors, he's that good. We'll definitely see more of him.
My take… "Peanut Butter Falcon" is a little Indie gem of a film. I hope you go to see it, you'll fall in love with it. Don't let this one pass by.