THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON gets 7.5/10 Wrestling with emotions

Directed by Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz

Starring Zack Gottsagen, Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Thomas Hayden Church


The strength of friendship can be so powerful, it can replace family. That’s what it does in The Peanut Butter Falcon, where two lonely men, seemingly without any family, form a bond and use each other to make their lives flourish with excitement and adventure.

Zack (Zack Gottsagen) is a young man with Down syndrome who yearns to escape from his life working at a nursing home, so he can fulfil his dreams of learning pro-wrestling under the tutelage of The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Hayden Church). So with a little help from the elderly Carl (Bruce Dern), he literally ‘slips’ out from the home and is on the run, bumping into Tyler (Shia LaBeouf).

Tyler seems tested at first by this hanger-on, but after learning Zack is a runaway like himself, Tyler instantly grows an appreciation for this rebellious spirit. Through a number of adventures they share together, their friendship blossoms, and it feels so authentic and real, as if the real Zack and Shia are as much friends as their characters.

They work together so well with each other, as Tyler becomes a mentor to Zack and his ambitions, and Zack reveals a softer and more humanly connected side to Tyler as they both discover an innate need for journeying into the unknown and discovering what thrills life has to offer them.

It’s been a long time coming, but LaBeouf is finally starting to leave a great impression on the screen – he anchors the film with his assured approach to handling his new friend, the dream he has, and the forces trying to pull him away from it. Along with Gottsagen, they uphold the warmth of the film, not making it too syrupy or untruthful.

Through earnest dialogue, performances, the characterisation of these two men, and the assortment of supporting characters that bring them out even further, this all cumulatively earns this film its feel-good spirit. With friendship that eventually turns into something closer to family, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a simple showcase of the power in bonding brotherhood.


The Peanut Butter Falcon plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, December 16 – Sunday, December 22, 8pm.

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