Movie #268 2020: The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

Let’s face it: the planet is on fire. Coronavirus, racial inequality, that presidential ‘debate’… we’re fucked. Now more than ever, we need cinema to be that form of escapism we’re always looking for, and this is the perfect example of how to achieve that.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is the story of an unlikely friendship. Crab fisherman Shia LeBeouf stumbles upon a young man with Down’s Syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) who is on the run from the care home he’s been allocated to, and the rest is history. Before long, the pair bond like siblings, and they make it their mission to make the young man’s dreams come true. It just so happens that he wants to be a professional wrestler.

Alongside that escapism we are all looking for, this immediately gave me Hunt For the Wilderpeople vibes. And that can only be a good thing. With its wholesome nature and that indie feel it has going for it, there are some striking similarities. Whilst this is less comedic than Wilderpeople however, it still gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart. As a result of the above, this is the perfect feel good summer movie if you ask me. Though its premise is very simple, it is such a sweet and lovely film that you can’t help but smile throughout. 

So what contributes to that joyous aura? Well, all three of the main characters are perfectly cast, and they’re all so likeable! It’s incredibly rare for me to like every single one of the characters in a movie, so this was refreshing and uplifting as a whole. Every time I see Dakota Johnson in a movie I expect to be disappointed, but for a plain-looking white girl she has a lot of star quality and she surprises me every time. Although she’s not part of the main duo per se, she steals every scene she’s in, which is difficult to do when LaBeouf and Gottsagen do some pretty good work here too.

Simply, this is exactly what you want from a feel good film. It has so much heart and themes of friendship are so lovely to see always. The Peanut Butter Falcon immerses itself into the ‘indie’ movie feel (a 6.2 million dollar budget is well-utilised) without pushing itself into the pretentious, hipster-serving ideology you’d expect it to. If you want something else to compare it to, look to Short Term 12. The themes in Falcon are clearly less dire and emotionally draining, but there’s something about the cinematography and the colour palette that suggests they could almost have been made by the same director.

Plot pacing is consistently steady, but I kinda wanted more from the ending. However, one cannot watch this without simply loving the sequence at the wrestling ring. Though this wasn’t as outstanding as I was led to believe it would be – there’s been some pretty glowing praise for it! – but for such a low budget indie film it does exactly what it sets out to do and I for one am glad it got the recognition it deserves.

Basically, watch Short Term 12 and then use The Peanut Butter Falcon to pick you back up. Now that’s a decent double header.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is available to stream on Netflix in the UK.

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