Peanut Butter Falcon was a fantastic experience that the whole family will enjoy. The release is that rare moment where everyone will leave the theater hurting from how much smiling they’ve done. It’s a struggle to think of a film that brought more joy to fans in 2019. However, I believe that the critics have perhaps missed the boat when selling this release to their readers or in some cases, viewers too. The idea that Peanut Butter Falcon is inspirational (because of the main character having down syndrome) demeans the actual message of the film. Saying a release is inspirational just because of a disability (whether physical or mental) is nothing more than a common trope most critics rely on when they don’t know what to say.
Peanut Butter Falcon is a film that’s more about kindness and acceptance than representation. Representation is fine and dandy but doesn’t do much when the world we live has preconceived ideas about most everybody. Zak is currently trapped by a system which feels that he’s incapable of taking care of himself. It’s through the kindness of others at the assisted living home that he’s allowed to be free. The world accepts him for what they see, and people like Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) know Zak is much more. Writer/Director Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson manage to weave this dichotomy in and out the film’s narrative. Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) views Zak as someone who might be in danger and is astounded to see how well he’s doing. Could society be a danger to Zak, or is it the system which is meant to protect him?
Peanut Butter Falcon is a physical and emotional journey for these characters the evokes memories of Huck Finn. A beautifully shot film which captures the power of kindness and acceptance of who we are and what truly matters most. These types of releases should be celebrated, and their message is worth sharing.