The Peanut Butter Falcon movie poster
Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young nursing home resident with Down syndrome, dreams of attending the professional wrestling school of his hero: The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). With a little help from his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern), he escapes the home to hopefully attain his goal. On the road, Zak connects with fugitive Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) - on the run for questionable dealings involving crab traps. Their friendship grows as he mentors Zak while traveling along the Southeast waterways to Tyler's destination of Florida. Eventually joining the pair is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a nursing home worker sent to bring Zak back. Surprises await the trio on their quest.

Impressive performances lend credibility to this fanciful journey. Making his narrative feature acting debut, Zack Gottsagen is
magnetic on screen. Yet it's a multi-layered and emotional Shia LaBeouf who carries much of the film as a man haunted by his brother's death. Writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz maintain a leisurely pace while keeping the spotlight on human relationships. Like the backwaters and rivers depicted, the Mark Twain-style story tends to wander at times. But the cast stays on track. Dakota Johnson is effective as Eleanor, who believably succumbs to the charms of the fugitive duo. Thomas Haden Church and Bruce Dern are memorable in small roles as the idolized former wrestler and irascible roommate. Jon Bernthal is seen in dream sequences as Tyler's brother. John Hawkes plays threatening well as a vengeance-seeking crab trap owner. The performers get an assist from the beautifully filmed landscapes of cinematographer Nigel Bluck and a soundtrack filled with catchy tunes. "The Peanut Butter Falcon" is a satisfying buddy road trip from start to Huckleberry finish. (4/5 CAMS)

Rated PG-13 (for thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking)
Running Time: 93 minutes

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