The Peanut Butter Falcon

Movie Information

Set on the Outer Banks, the funny, heartwarming adventure is nearly undone by a rushed final act.
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen
Rated: PG-13

As an odd couple on the lam for wildly different reasons, the inspired combination of Shia LaBeouf’s Tyler and Zack Gottsagen’s Zak in The Peanut Butter Falcon is a strong candidate for Onscreen Duo of the Year.

The frequently hilarious and occasionally touching Outer Banks adventures of the depressed loner and his immensely likable tagalong with Down syndrome are further bolstered by confident filmmaking from first-time feature writer/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, whose authentic setting is populated by colorful side characters that feel lifted from a documentary about quirky seaside personalities.

Adding to the fun is Bruce Dern at his crusty best playing Zak’s nursing home roommate, while Thomas Haden Church earns steady laughs as Zak’s wrestling hero, The Salt Water Redneck, whose school halfway down the North Carolina coast becomes the new friends’ destination.

But as Zak develops his titular body-slamming alter ego, Tyler opens his heart, and a conclusion must be reached, the filmmakers’ storytelling inexperience increasingly shows in a rushed final act, where, among other head-scratchers, it becomes clear that volunteer caretaker Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) could be cut from the film, and her absence would barely make a difference.

The late-breaking stumbles don’t significantly undermine The Peanut Butter Falcon’s many successes, especially a normalizing of Down syndrome that other filmmakers would be wise to emulate, but the victories nonetheless merit a more developed vessel than the one they receive.

Starts Aug. 23 at the Fine Arts Theatre

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA).

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