THE MOVIES — Every once in a while, a tiny independent film with a big message will find a small patch of earth to stretch its roots and reach for the light in the overgrown forest of Hollywood summer blockbusters.
This year that film is “The Peanut Butter Falcon” starring Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen. This film is the story of two men Tyler (LaBeouf), a drifter running from his past, and Zack (Gottsagen), a man with Down syndrome who has escaped from his care facility. They cross paths on their way to two very different destinations, and the lives of these two men are changed forever in the most touching ways.
Some of you may have seen the trailer for this film and have already made plans to see it, for others this may be the first you've heard of it. This film is one of my two favorites of the year.
Check out John Clyde's full review of the movie to read more about why you and everyone you know should see it. This article will talk about some things you should be aware of before you go.
This film is rated PG-13 not because it is gratuitous in any way but because it preserves a level of honesty that is difficult but necessary to hear sometimes.
Due to the subject matter, the word “retard” is used on a couple occasions. The use of this word is meant to illustrate what people with disabilities are forced to deal with on a daily basis. The use of this and similar words reminds viewers that innocent people often bear the emotional burden of the ignorant and thoughtless comments of others.
There is also the use of the "F" word and a few other swear words throughout the film, which help it earn its rating.
If you or someone you would like to take to this movie is sensitive to this type of language beware, but know that the film's message is more important than some of the words used to deliver it.
Bullying and intimidation
The nature of the characters in this film puts them at odds with the rest of the world, and as is often the case, the marginalized become the object of ridicule from the mainstream.
For different reasons, both Tyler and Zak are either emotionally or physically beaten by those who would like to see them fail.
This is the sort of thing that can be difficult to watch on screen if you have suffered something similar. The point in showing these events is to illustrate that people have the capacity to rise above those people and circumstances that conspire to keep them down.
There is some violence in this film as one character is beaten up by some people who want to send him a message. There is also some stylized violence to which Zak is subjected as he participates in professional-style wrestling match and training. Both get a little intense but show no blood or gore of any type.
There is no sexuality in this film beyond some mild flirting between two characters.
Abandonment and loss
This film is ultimately about people finding each other and themselves, but to do that they had to be lost or abandoned in some way to begin with.
There are some difficult scenes to watch emotionally as we get to know what has set these men upon their journeys, but without these scenes, we could not see how the relationship develops between these characters as they progress throughout the film.
This film is a beautifully told story of friendship and acceptance that shows us great stories must not be afraid of the truths that make them worth telling.
The filmmakers Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz expertly use the truth of experience to enrich the audience's understanding of others in a fun yet poignant way that leaves you gladly following the path of two drifters as they slowly make their way.
"The Peanut Butter Falcon" is rated PG-13 for thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking.