A young man escapes the sheltered life of a home for individuals with special needs to an adventure with a new friend.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is the movie you should see this year if you want a serious case of the “feels”. Not only is it a positive movie overall but it touches on the various perspectives of humanity. It also shows what determination can help you achieve as long as you keep believing.
This buddy movie takes place in the southern belt of the United States that give this story its charm. The backdrop of a sleepy hazy south well establishes the story of Zak’s beginnings at an overprotective and institutionalized home for individuals with “special needs”. Though Zack may be taken care of physically, the place does nothing to quell his other needs, like his dream of becoming a wrestler. But it is a constant reminder to him that his has Down Syndrome and such opportunities were not available to him.
Undaunted by this, Zak escapes the home in search of a means to fulfill his dream.He ends up in the bottom of a boat owned by a hard-nosed crab fisherman by the name of Tyler, who is on the run for illegal activities with the fishing competition. When Tyler questions the young man, he realizes that Zak really hasn’t had the opportunity to live a full life nor has he had many experiences, so he decides to bring Zak with him.
Together, the two travel down to Florida, where Tyler plans to do more fishing for crab. On the way they happen upon a wrestling school run by Salt Water Redneck, who happens to be Zak’s idol. It has always been Zak’s dream to be a wrestler and finally he gets his chance. However, while training, one of Zak’s caretakers tracks him down. Eleanor, does her best to explain the responsibilities of taking care of an adult with Down Syndrome and Zak stays firm with his dream and his new buddy backs him in his decision. Eleanor has no recourse but to accompany the two and help Zak fully realize his dream to be a wrestler.
The actors performances were all endearing and only gloss the surface of what individuals with Down Syndrome go through; the systemic method of treating those with special needs that include segregation from outside society.the tunnel visioned belief of the abilities by social workers and medical professionals, and worst of all forgetting that these individuals are still human.
I loved the interaction with Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen because as an audience member I can truly feel the bond between this outlaw and this young man looking to live life to the fullest. Both of them were trying to find their own freedom in a way and watching their journey first hand just makes one feel warm inside.
Their relationship reminds me of the film “Where Hope Grows” where a person who has become hardened becomes motivated to feel again when reminded of the blessings he’s had through his life. Tyler sees Zak for his ability not his (dis)ability and unlike Eleanor, treats him no different.
It is a movie that should be seen and gives a perspective of what an inclusive environment will do for anyone. The story also gives hope to those who are following their dreams not to give up.