The Peanut Butter Falcon is a heartwarming story of how a young man with Down syndrome, Zak, breaks out of his assisted living facility to follow his dreams. Zak, played by Zack Gottsagen, meets a fisherman who is on the run, played by Shia LaBeouf, while on his journey to become a professional wrestler. The two characters instantly form an unbreakable bond as they travel south to get Zak to a wrestling school. However, Eleanor, a social worker from the assisted living facility who is played by Dakota Johnson, attempts to track Zak down, as most believe he is incapable of surviving on his own. The film premiered in March 2019 and was a surprise hit, grossing almost $25 million dollars and receiving heavy praise from critics.
Zak is obsessed with the professional wrestler “the Salt Water Redneck” and sees a commercial for his wrestling school, sparking his idea to escape the facility and travel there. After Zak manages to escape through the window at night, he finds shelter on a raggedy boat that belongs to Tyler, a fisherman who’s in trouble with the wrong people. Tyler had stolen crabs from other fisherman and tried to sell them at a crab shack, only to be turned down for not having a license. He then decided to impulsively destroy thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment that belonged to the crabbers he stole from. This creates the dual story line of Tyler on the run and Zak following his dreams. While Tyler did try to get rid of Zak after he found the young runaway on his boat, he quickly changed his mind after seeing other teenagers bully him for not being able to swim. The two create an agreement to get to Zak to his wrestling school and Tyler to Florida.
Throughout the film, Tyler teaches Zak several valuable lessons like how to fish, how to shoot a gun (which proves to be very helpful later in the movie), and to have more confidence in himself. This movie has an impactful message that just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean their dreams should be seen as unachievable. In one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, the three main characters are on the boat, and Tyler explains to Eleanor that though she doesn’t talk to Zak like he has a disability, she still treats him that way.
Watching Zak’s story will leave you with an ear-to-ear smile for about 95% of the movie. If you’re having a bad day, I highly recommend this feel-good drama-comedy to cheer you up.