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The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)


Blu-Ray Disc Released: 11/12/2019

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/3/2019

In 1981, I saw a made-for-TV movie called Bill, which starred Mickey Rooney as a man who had intellectual disabilities.  The film was incredibly moving and since that time, I’ve had a soft-spot for movie which feature people who are disable.  (For some reason, the best of these were TV movies, such as the 1983 sequel Bill: On His Own and 1979’s Like Normal People).  Looking back, one drawback of these movies is that able-bodied actors were utilized to portray the people with disabilities.  This has changed in the last few decades and more unique individuals are getting their chance to grace the screen.  The latest example of this is The Peanut Butter Falcon.

The Peanut Butter Falcon opens by introducing us to two lost souls.  Zak (Zack Gottsagen) is a young man who has Down Syndrome.  As a ward of the state, he lives in a retirement home and dreams of meeting his idol, a professional wrestler named Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).  Tyler (Shai LaBeouf) is a fisherman who is reeling from a recent trauma.  Following some thefts from other local seamen, he finds himself on the run.  When Zak escapes from the home, he meets Tyler and the two decide to travel together, with Tyler agreeing to help Zak find Saltwater Redneck’s wrestling school.  Meanwhile, Zak’s social worker, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), is trying to find her charge.

There is certainly one thing which can be said about The Peanut Butter Falcon – I don’t think that anyone’s seen this specific story before.  Yes, the tale of two mis-matched characters going on a quest mimics every Pixar movie, but a script which deals with an arsonist and a man with special needs seeking a professional wrestler…well…that’s unique.  However, the movie never acts as if its story is unique.  While some films would over emphasize how odd all of this is, The Peanut Butter Falcon seems to exist in a universe in which all of this is completely normal.  The movie also makes great use of its locations, with Savannah standing in for Eastern North Carolina.  (Thanks NC legislation…)  This is a Southern folk tale which takes on mythical proportions at times.  (More on that in a moment.)

Writers/Directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz have experience with shorts and documentaries, and their experience pays off with the attention to detail here.  However, they have some issues with the film’s tone.  The movie is oddly unemotional.  As noted above, I have a soft-spot for stories like this, and The Peanut Butter Falcon never moved me.  This is due in part to the one-dimensional characters.  Zak seems like a sweet guy, but he’s never given much depth.  In contrast, Tyler is too complex and while we learn why he’s lashing out at the world, it’s difficult to like someone who has committed the crimes that he has.  Not unlike Zak, Eleanor is underwritten, and is basically here to be the voice of reason. 

On the surface, it appears that there should be a lot of celebrate with The Peanut Butter Falcon.  It goes without saying that it’s fantastic that a movie which stars a person with special needs not only got made, but became a minor hit.  The movie wants to be a modern-day Mark Twain-esque story of a journey downriver which involves a series of mini-adventures.  However, an event during the finale leaves the audience wondering whether or not what we’ve been witnessing was entirely real.  But, when all is said and done, the movie leaves very little impact.  It’s very nice that it’s not the least bit saccharine, but it could have actually used a little bit of melodrama.  Forthright to a fault, this falcon holds back on the emotion and is never allowed to soar.

The Peanut Butter Falcon doesn’t do much for the reputation of the South on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials.  The colors look good, and the image is never overly dark or bright.  The image shows a nice amount of depth and the level of detail is impressive.  The majority of the film takes place during the day and these shots show a nice amount of crispness.  The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps.  The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects.  The sequences on the raft deliver a nice amount of surround sound, as the background effects and the water provide detailed effects in the rear speakers.  The stereo channels help to highlight sounds coming from off-screen.  The music sounds fine and never overpowers the actors.

The Peanut Butter Falcon Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extra features.  “Zack’s Story: The Making of The Peanut Butter Falcon” (6 minutes) is a fairly detailed making-of featurette (to be so brief) which has Directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz describing how they met Zack and how the story came about.  From there, we hear from the cast members who talk about what drew them to the project.  “Images from The Peanut Butter Falcon” is simply a still gallery.  The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long