Film Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz’s feature debut The Peanut Butter Falcon is an offbeat and very endearing tale.

When Zak escapes from his care home, he encounters Tyler, a small time crook. The pair set out on a less than straightforward journey south…

Written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Mike Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon is a road movie with an odd couple as its central protagonists. The juxtaposition of these two characters functions well. Tyler’s predominant drive seems to be self-interest, whilst Zak’s ambition is to get to the wrestling school. As so with road movies, it is the metaphorical journey that is pivotal.

As the narrative progresses, the friendship between Zak and Tyler develops in a charming manner. Dialogue between the pair is often amusing, and sometimes heartfelt. Nilson and Schwartz have crafted characters that viewers will really care about. The film relays background detail distinctly, leaving room for characters to grow whilst showing how they got to this point. 

The film is overt in its reference to Mark Twain; the author’s influence on the filmmakers is abundantly clear. The travelling along the river, and the friendship between an unlikely pair make the film feel like a homage to Twain. 

The narrative is littered with humorous incidences along the way as the pair make their way to their destination. The addition of Eleanor just before final third does change the dynamic. However, her presence enhances the camaraderie, rather than distracting from it. 

The soundtrack feels in keeping with the setting, whilst photography captures the beauty and wildness of the landscape. The Peanut Butter Falcon delivers good performances from Shia Labeouf, Zack Gottsagen, and Dakota Johnson. John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, and Thomas Haden Church are cast in some wonderful minor roles. The appearance of former wrestlers is a nice touch. 

The Peanut Butter Falcon is both heartwarming and humorous. A charming debut from Nilson and Schwartz. 

The Peanut Butter Falcon is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019. 

Film Review: Daddy’s Home

Daddy's Home

Director and co-writer Sean Anders’ Daddy’s Home is very much in the same vein as his other comedies. Will Ferrell fans will find laughs, but there is little here that is unpredictable.

Brad loves being a stepdad to his wife’s two children. Brad is finally winning the children round, when their real dad decides to visit. The freeloading Dusty forces Brad to compete for the affection of the kids…

Daddy’s Home is a sufficiently entertaining comedy, as may be expected from the crew behind Step Brothers, The Other Guys and more. This latest Adam McKay-produced film offers a formulaic premise. Viewers are likely to know exactly what kind of film it will be from the first five minutes. The dependable stepdad is upstaged by the exciting real dad returning after an absence.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play the exact roles expected of them in Daddy’s Home. There is no twist of assumptions as provided by The Other Guys, for example. In this latest film, the leads play to type. The wafer-thin characterisations leave plenty of room for comedy.

Daddy’s Home relies on the same style of humour as many of Ferrell’s other films. The film mixes slapstick with bawdy humour. This works to the same extent; some jokes hit whilst others miss the mark. Nonetheless, the film entertains overall. There are some decent parts, such as the anecdotes of Brad’s boss Leo (played by Thomas Haden Church). Will Ferrell goes through the motions as Brad; there is no stretch for the actor in this role. Likewise, Wahlberg is cast in a familiar fashion. Hannibal Buress is underused as Griff; the comedian is not given enough decent material.

Daddy’s Home is a diversion; audiences are likely to chuckle during the 1 hour 36 minute run time. Nevertheless, there are not enough belly laughs for the film to be memorable.