By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice on August 23, 2019
The Outer Banks premier of Peanut Butter Falcon was a little bit like a locals get together. Just about impossible to say how many in the audience at the Kill Devil Hills RC Theater I knew or were locals and friends, but it was a lot.
Written and directed by Outer Banks native and former Colington resident Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz, who remarked at the Q&A after the movie that he would like be a native, Peanut Butter Falcon tells a wonderful tale of love, courage and discovery.
Filled with visual references to the Outer Banks and loaded with Outer Banks names and places, the movie pays a wonderful homage to the place where Nilson grew up.
At the Q&A, Nilson’s father put his hand up to be recognized. “I would like to thank the Outer Banks community for being the village that raised my son,” he said.
But here’s the thing about the movie…absent all of that, it is still a movie that should be seen.
It is not the type of movie that is made very often, at least not in the past 20 or 30 years. It is unabashedly, unapologetically uplifting. Not sappy, or overly sentimental, simply uplifting.
Zak is a young man with Down Syndrome housed in a home for senior citizens. Brithaven, as it is called in the film, one of many references to local places and names. He yearns to be free and meet his hero, wrestler Salt Water Redneck and attend his school for wrestlers. The school, it seems, is on Hatteras Island, just about where Avon would be.
After numerous attempts at escape, his roommate, Bruce Dern, frees him and and Zak sprints to freedom wearing nothing but his skivvies.
Hiding in a boat, he meets Shia LaBeouf, who is also on the lam, running for his life after setting fire to stack of crab pots.
Zak is pursued by Dakota Johnson, who was his caretaker at Britthaven. LaBeouf is being chased by a pair of crabber brothers with murder in their heart.
In many ways the plot is secondary to the character development. LaBeouf refuses to let Zak argue that the can’t do something because he had Down’s Syndrome. Zak becomes the brother LaBeouf lost. Johnson and LaBeouf become the family that rejected Zak, something we learn in one of the most heart wrenching scenes of the movie.
What makes Peanut Butter Falcon particularly effective is that it does not gloss over the tragedies and pitfalls of life. The focus, rather, is on resilience and the power of the human spirit to rise above even the saddest or most difficult of circumstance.
That is what makes it such an uplifting movie.
Addenda-for the English majors and those obsessed with literary archetypes…yes, this is a picaresque novel brought to the big screen with strong elements of Huckleberry Finn. My recommendation, though, is forget all of that, go see Peanut Butter Falcon and enjoy it for what it is–a wonderfully inspiring feel-good movie.