There has been a lot of talk and debate regarding inclusion and diversity, yet these discussions are often limited to race. Hardly ever do you see a film, let alone a television series centered around a person with special needs. There have been a few like Big Bang Theory (Sheldon supposedly has Asperger’s), Breaking Bad (RJ Mitte), Life Goes On (Corky had Down syndrome) and Switched at Birth (hearing impaired characters who used sign language) to name a few.
In the past, most of these films would feature characters with disabilities as deaf like Children of a Lesser God or The Miracle Worker. The number of titles with Down syndrome leads are few, far and in-between, which is why The Peanut Butter Falcon is of the utmost importance.
It’s the first time I have seen a film that focused on the character’s personal strength, tenacity and keen sense of life skills rather than what is the obvious — what makes them unique. The Peanut Butter Falcon finds two souls at a crossroads in life and in the world. Tyler (Shia LaBeof) is figuring out how to navigate his world and finances without the love and support of his big brother and Zak (Zach Gottsagen) dreams of becoming more than a patient at a group home and seeks to get out and discover what the world has to offer.
After Zak makes a break for it, he makes friends with Tyler and the two go off on their own personal adventure, but not without a few speed bumps along the way involving being hunted by Duncan (John Hawkes) and a friend from the group home, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson).
This film is the perfect adage for the family you choose as opposed to the family you are born into. Shia LaBeof is giving me sexy, rugged leading man in an awkwardly charming fashion which was actually very entertaining. Zach Gottsagen literally got skills and is a pure delight while exuding a nice range of emotionally growth and strength with his character.
There are numerous moments in the middle that drag a tad, but for the most part it’s a delightful trip down the river with a band of characters that will warm your heart, inspire and leave you a little more hopeful for humanity than when you walked into the theater.
Produced by Roadside Attractions and Directed/Written by Tyler Nilson, The Peanut Butter Falcon drifts into a theater near you on August 9th.