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.