An engaging spin on Huck Finn set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
The Peanut Butter Falcon
Directors: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz
Screenplay: Nilson, Schwartz
Cast: Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Rating: PG 13
Runtime: 1 hr 33 min
By: John DeSando
“Friends are the family you choose.” Tyler (Shia LeBeouf)
The Peanut Butter Falcon is about as odd and endearing as the title, which refers to the alter ego of Zak (Zack Gottsagen). His dream of being a pro wrestler like The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Hayden Church) is hampered by the fact that Zak is a down-syndrome lad escaping from a nursing home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Lucky for him to meet Tyler (think Matthew McConaughey in Mud, but less flamboyant), who is himself on the run. As might be expected for those who are familiar with Hick Finn, the two encounter disreputable good old boys and caring ladies while Zak learns how to survive and maybe fulfill his dream.
Here is an odyssey that doesn’t pander to notions of romance and rehabilitation; rather it gently shows the sweet and sour of life that Tyler can give to Zak with mixed results.
With the exception of John Hawkes playing his usual lean and mean redneck, the cast is unusually without stereotype. Church’s Clint/Salt Water is especially right for a former wrestler given to kindness. In fact, the film is best exemplified by the opening quote to this review: the search for family is even more important than a lifelong obsession with becoming a pro wrestler. With the emergence of do-gooder Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), family becomes more possible than finding that Florida wrestling camp.
“This is not ‘Lord of the Flies.’ There’s rules. There’s regulations!” Eleanor (Dakota Johnson)
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com