Imagine Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” only with a crab-pot thief and a young man with Down syndrome, instead of Tom and Huck. And instead of the mighty Mississippi, imagine the estuaries of North Carolina. And instead of skipping school to run away, imagine running away to attend school (well, wrestling school).
That’s the plot of a new indie film, directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, and starring no less than Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is not only beautifully shot and set, its message is badly needed in a culture like ours.
The film stars newcomer Zack Gottsagen, who plays the role of a 22-year-old man with Down syndrome, who escapes a nursing home to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler named, you guessed it, The Peanut Butter Falcon. Along the way, he gets mixed up with Shia LaBeouf’s character, a guy on the run from a pair of revenge-hungry fishermen.
Against all odds, these two “fugitives” forge a brotherly bond and eventually come to understand that their journey is more of a pilgrimage than an escape.
Dakota Johnson’s character is Eleanor, an educated caregiver bent on chasing Zak down and returning him to state supervision. When she finally catches up with him and his new friend, she’s surprised to learn that Zak’s not only happy, he’s a pretty good fisherman.
And so, just as Zak forces Tyler to question his identity as a bad guy, he also forces Eleanor to question her well-meaning but stifling, overly-clinical approach to Zak’s condition, one that leads her to miss something important: Zak, himself.
Ultimately, she joins in on this pilgrimage to find “the Saltwater Redneck’s” wrestling school. Through hijinks and scrapes, they learn that human beings can’t be defined by their guilty consciences, or their college degrees, or even their chromosomal disorders.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris