I am biased.
I had some random movies on my “to watch” list. I call them random because I borrowed them from a random answer on Quora about movies. Some person listed four of their favorite movies that they believe everyone should watch, and I heeded the call.
Random movies considered to be good by some random person answering a random question on Quora.
Anyway, I’ve watched almost all those movies by now, having watched the last one yesternight. Hence the reason I say I am biased. I only watched this particular movie last out of all of them because I took a sneak peek at all the movies and noticed that this one featured a main character with Down Syndrome. The movie was promptly relegated to the end of the list. Not in a “save the best for last” kind of way, but more of a “seem to be quite the downer” kind of way. A movie with a Down Syndrome character seemed to be quite the downer. Ha.
I didn’t even think about it much. It was split second decision. Even though I didn’t delete the movie, I highly doubted I’d watch it.
Until yesterday when I noticed it was the only remaining item that I hadn’t watched from my entire movie watch list (which also included Joker, Hitler: Rise of Evil, The White Tiger, and A Most Violent Year). I decided to stop being biased and watch the movie.
Great decision. It turned out to be the best movie I’d watch from the list of four that I’d picked from Quora. The movie’s called The Peanut Butter Falcon.
The main character, Zak, is a male youth with Down Syndrome living in an elderly care nursing home. The first scene of the movie shows Zak receiving lunch on his platter, and he requests for pudding. The pudding, it turns out, is for Rosemary, an elderly female resident at the nursing home who Zak convinces to eat the pudding, pretend she was choking, so that he could have a chance to escape. The moment Rosemary starts pretending to choke on the pudding and the orderlies rush towards her aid, Zak dashes for the door and almost makes it to the road when he’s tackled down by an orderly that was outside the nursing home.
We then learn that this is Zak’s second attempt at running away, which leaves Eleanor (the nursing home worker seemingly in charge of the residents) with no choice but to label him a flight risk and withdraw both his and Rosemary’s privileges. We find out that Zak is frustrated at having to live in a nursing home with old people, yet he’s young and should be out there living life. Eleanor explains that it’s how the system works and there’s little she can do to change that, since he doesn’t have a family that can provide adequate supervision for him.
Later on, we’re introduced to the Salt Water Redneck, a wrestler who Zak is obsessed with. Zak’s roommate, Carl, complains that they’ve watched a particular Salt Water Redneck videotape over ten times. Zak wants to head to the area where Saltwater trains people in wrestling so as to learn from who he considers the master. Carl later helps him escape by bending the bars on their windows using a cloth and having Zak apply soap all over himself so that he can smoothly squeeze through the bars.
Zak escapes, and ends up in a boat which belongs to Tyler (played by Shia LaBeouf). Tyler is a struggling fisherman who gets into trouble for fishing in restricted waters. This gets him fired from the job he holds and gets him into more trouble with Duncan and Ratboy, who give him a beating and demand payment from him for lost business. Tyler reacts by burning their fishing gear, and running away, when he encounters Zak in his boat. The two then pair up and Tyler promises to get Zak to Saltwater’s wrestling school. At the same time, Eleanor has been tasked by the nursing home manager/owner to find Zak lest his disappearance costs him businesswise. She meets Tyler at a convenience store and asks about for Zak, to which Tyler responds with numerous questions, which offends Eleanor.
At this point, it is quite clear that the movie is playing up a romantic angle between Tyler and Eleanor, which comes soon enough. Eleanor finally locates them on a beach where Zak and Tyler had slept for the night after heavy drinking. This was the night we were introduced to Zak’s wrestling name, The Peanut Butter Falcon: He’d originally gone with falcon, but added the peanut butter bit due to his love for it. While Eleanor is eager to take Zak back and is worried about every other detail, Tyler plays Eleanor’s concerns down, and accuses her of treating Zak like a retard, despite her hesitance to even utter the word. So even though she was conscious of using names such as retard, the way in which she treated Zak showed that was what she considered him as, since she treated him like a child.
Zak throws away Eleanor’s car keys and she’s forced to take a trip downstream using the raft that Tyler built from a blind Christian’s house. We then have a montage of the trio eating, singing, and dancing their way to the wrestling school. Soon enough they reach the town and discover Saltwater Redneck’s house. After some initial hesitation (considering he’d closed the school a decade earlier), he comes out dressed as Saltwater and even teaches Zak some wrestling tactics. It turns out the move Zak really wanted to learn was the ‘the atomic throw”, a move where Saltwater would lift his opponent off the ground, above his head, and throw them quite a distance out of the ring. Saltwater explains that it was simply camera tricks and the move is “impossible”.
Zak is scheduled for an actual fight the next day at Jacob’s backyard (Jacob is a fellow wrestler who’s with Saltwater when he’s training Zak). Jacob isn’t pleased with the idea, and is even more displeased that he’s matched to fight Zak, and is expected to go easy on him. The next day Zak goes up against Jacob, who does not take it easy on him at all. At the same time, a friend of Duncan’s informs him that he’s spotted Tyler. Zak take a beating but after some encouragement from Tyler, turns the match around and actually manages to perform the atomic throw on Jacob. Simultaneously, Duncan and Ratboy have arrived and Duncan heads over ringside to Tyler with a wheel spanner and the scene cuts out with him aiming it at Tyler’s head.
Tyler we later find out had the shit kicked out of him, and ends up in hospital. In the final movie scene, we see Eleanor and Zak in a car headed to Florida. Jupiter, Florida was Tyler’s dream destination, where he wanted to “live a good life, run charters, and take people sport fishing”. Zak wakes Tyler up to inform him they’re in Florida, to which we see a black-eyed and bandaged Tyler respond with a grunt. The movie ends with a close-up on Zak’s face, the same way it started.
What did I learn from this film? Well, let’s never walk on eggshells about saying or using certain words when our behavior is more informative of our beliefs and values more than the words themselves. Nowadays, we live in pc world (politically correct). People are not only scared of using terms such as “nigger” or “fag”, they are even scared of using words such as fat. Imagine that. You can’t even say fat anymore. A mere descriptive word. It’s like being told not to say hot or cold, tall or short.
Second, never let someone’s disability trick you into believing they are helpless or childlike.
Finally, I really loved the outro song that played as the credits were rolling. The song is Running For So Long (House a Home) performed by Parker Ainsworth, Butch Walker, Paris Jackson, and Jessie Payo. I immediately loved this song. Here’s some of the lyrics:
My oh my Lord, I just can hardly wait
We’ve been worn down, in the hardest ways
The long night’s over and I’m starting to believe
I’m not as broken as some made me out to be
What makes a house a home
Been running for so long
When I met you
I couldn’t let you
What makes a house a home