The synopsis of "The Peanut Butter Falcon" (see below) tells you the basic story but isn't able to add what Zack Gottsagen (as Zak) and Shia LaBeouf (as Tyler) bring to the movie that makes it so moving.
Gottsagen is an actor with Down Syndrome and though you won't forget that the whole time watching the movie you will also learn that he is a man with wants and needs and, given a chance, will get them. When the film opens Zak is in an old folks nursing home because there is no other place for him as he has no living family and the State doesn't have any other facilities for him. Pushed on by his roommate, played by Bruce Dern, Zak runs away one night, wearing only his white briefs, and hides under a tarp in a boat owned by Tyler, who is on the run from the law and some locals who after him to get revenge for his burning their equipment.
Zak and Tyler join forces, the latter at first reluctantly, and soon Eleanor, (Dakota Johnson) who in charge of Zak in the home and is now looking for him, become part of a family initially made up of strangers.
Shia LaBeouf gives a strong performance as a man who lost his older brother and, unknowingly, has a chance to redeem himself. He brings many layers into his role regarding both Zak and Eleanor and a man who is lost while Zack Gottsagen has a remarkable physical and emotional strength who want let anything stop him, including starring in a motion picture. Dakota Johnson does what she can with her role though it is very underwritten by the screenwriters Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, who did much better as the directors of the film.
Bruce Dern does a fun turn with few minutes while Thomas Haden Church as the wrestler trainer, Salt Water Redneck, who Zak, after constantly watching a video the man made, wants to meet and go to his classes, portrays that backwood world, along with real life wrestlers Jake "The Snake" Roberts MIck Foley. Wayne DeHart, as a blind preacher, helps the 3 with their journey while preaching about leaving the wolves of their past behind.
The journey that takes place mostly along the North Carolina coast affords the 'family' opportunities, both funny and emotional, to become just that and will hit home with many in the audience who have done the same thing, making strangers into a living family.
"The Peanut Butter Falcon" is a sweet, moving film that makes heroes of the two male leads.
A modern Mark Twain style adventure story, THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON tells the story of Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home to follow his dream of attending the professional wrestling school of his idol, The Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church). A strange turn of events pairs him on the road with Tyler (LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, who becomes Zak's unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee charged with Zak's return, to join them on their journey.