Is Christ Really at the Center of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON?

Is Christ Really at the Center of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON?

Note: This is a portion of our review of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON. For the full review, including a breakdown of content, violence, sex, language and nudity, click here.

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is the story of two men, one of normal intelligence yet prone to criminal behavior and the other a Down’s Syndrome man seeking to escape assisted living, who embark on a journey together on a river raft. THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is a true delight, with a strong Christian, moral, redemptive worldview, including a baptism scene, but it’s marred by too much foul language and some light Romantic elements.

The movie follows the story of Zak, a thirtysomething man with Down’s Syndrome. Zak’s been forced to live in an assisted living facility as a ward of the state since his parents died almost three years ago. Zak obsessively watches an old VHS wrestling video from the 1980s where a wrestler called the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church) unleashes an array of moves upon opponents, making him Zak’s hero.

Zak wants to escape the assisted living facility and learn wrestling from the Salt Water Redneck. He engages in a ridiculous yet effective plan to do so. He strips down to his underwear, lathers himself in baby oil and then slides through the bars of his room window into the night.

Zak hides under a tarp on a small boat owned by Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a shady local fisherman who’s always illicitly fishing crabs in an area he’s not licensed to be. When Tyler burns a large pile of equipment owned by his rivals, he’s forced to run for his life, not realizing that Zak is on his boat.

The two men become unlikely friends, with the aimless Tyler having nowhere to go and Zak begging him to take him down river to the Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school. They are joined by a young widowed social worker named Eleanor (Dakota Johnson). Eleanor’s been ordered to bring Zak back to the assisted living facility, but suddenly feels that perhaps Zak is best served by living his life of adventure.

The unlikely and often unpredictable events that evolve from this journey are a true delight, with the PEANUT BUTTER FALCON slowly but very surely revealing a Christian undercurrent. Not only does Tyler slowly seek to change his ways for the better, but key songs throughout have gospel or Christ-centered lyrics without being heavy handed, and a man they encounter on their trip waxes happily about Jesus and faith as he hosts them for a night before baptizing Zak in a river the next day.

THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON has an incredible sweetness at its core, despite some frequent foul language, including a couple strong profanities. The relationship that develops between Tyler and Eleanor is chaste and touching to behold, and there’s a real sense of triumph as Zak starts to realize his dreams.

One of FALCON’s producers is Tim Shriver of the Special Olympics. His involvement ensures FALCON becomes a positive portrayal of a mentally challenged man who just wants to make friends and live life with some sense of independence and freedom. These universal desires make the movie eminently relatable, and parallels the real-life events that star Shia LaBeouf is undergoing now as he makes a comeback from several years of troubling behavior.

Overall, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is a truly terrific, redemptive movie. It provides fresh entertainment in a summer overrun by sequels and superheroes, but MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution because of excessive foul language. PEANUT BUTTER FALCON also has some violence and a scene with drunkenness.

Note: This is a portion of our review of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON. For the full review, including a breakdown of content, violence, sex, language and nudity, click here.

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