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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Despite its edginess, the movie has clear messages about kindness and empathy, as well as empowering those with special needs.
Positive Role Models
While Tyler shows kindness and encouragement to Zak, he's also a thief and a vandal (though he does pay for his crimes). Zak, on the other hand, is a wonderful role model for people with Down syndrome. He's feisty and flawed, and he dares to follow his dreams. A character explains that the term "retarded" infers that a person might be incapable of doing things that others can do, and he insists that Zak can do anything he wants. A character who has previously cared for Zak learns to let him follow his dream.
Violence & Scariness
Guns and shooting. A character is beaten up and kicked while down, with dirt kicked in face. Violent wrestling sequences, with slamming, throwing, hitting, some blood. Character sets a fire. Knife to throat. Adult character punches (bully) kid. Tire iron to head, followed by hospital scene. Threats. Character tackled. Bullying. Vomiting. Death of minor character discussed. A caught fish is beaten to knock it unconscious. Character briefly handcuffed to steering wheel.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief kissing. Flirting. While he's urinating, the top of a main character's buttocks are shown. A main character wears only underwear for a long time.
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Fairly frequent language includes a use of "f--k" and many uses of "s--t," plus "ass," "damn," "bitch," "retard/retarded," "goddamn," "hell," "sucks," "screwed," "stupid."
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Products & Purchases
Brands shown/mentioned include Ding Dongs, Peter Pan peanut butter, M&M's.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink heavily from a bottle of whiskey. Hangovers. Flashbacks to drinking in a bar and drunk driving. Other minor scenes with characters holding drinks. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Peanut Butter Falcon is an empowering road/buddy movie with themes of kindness and empathy. It's also powerful from a representation standpoint, as it centers on a character with Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen). That said, some of the material is fairly mature. Viewers will see guns and shooting, violent wrestling sequences (with some blood), a character punching a kid, a knife held to someone's throat, and more. Language is fairly frequent, with a use of "f--k," plus several uses of "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "retard," and more. Characters flirt and kiss, the top of a male character's buttocks is shown, and another character wears nothing but underpants for several scenes. Characters drink a bottle of whiskey and suffer hangovers. There's also some smoking, as well as a flashback to a drunk driving incident. Shia LaBeouf, Bruce Dern, and Dakota Johnson co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though the plot of this mismatched-buddies drama may feel overly familiar, the bold casting and watery setting provide a welcome edginess that enhances the inevitable sweetness, making it genuine. Co-written and co-directed by first-timers Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, The Peanut Butter Falcon does follow a well-worn story arc, but the presence of Gottsagen -- who has Down syndrome in real life -- quickly ups the ante. The role of Zak was written directly for him, and he's instantly endearing. LaBeouf, meanwhile, is known for his irreverence and volatility, which makes it all the more notable when his character opens up and shows a softer side of himself. When that happens, it's a happy surprise -- and it's wonderfully honest.
Johnson, best known for playing Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades movies, completes the picture, likewise showing far more appealing vulnerability here. Largely filmed in Georgia, the movie makes beautiful use of land and sea, sun-baked shores and boats; it feels warm and open-aired, smelling like salt and fish. Yet it also conveys a realistic sense of desperation and menace, making the perils of the journey feel more concrete. In the end, The Peanut Butter Falcon shows great and rare compassion, not only for Zak, but for anyone who feels marginalized or misunderstood.
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Our Editors Recommend
Movies with Characters Who Have Learning and Attention Issues and Developmental Disabilities
Movies That Inspire Empathy
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