15 Reasons Why You Need to Watch 'The Peanut Butter Falcon'
A couple weeks ago my family and I rented the movie, “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” starring Zach Gottsagen (Zak), Dakota Johnson (Eleanor), and Shia LeBeouf (Tyler). We sat down to watch this movie like we do any other during “movie night” — calm, collected, interested and comfortable. We ended the movie covered in tears, tissues, and snot, wondering why we didn’t yet own the movie. It’s that good. No, scratch that. It’s that amazing
Related: Download The Mighty app to connect in real time with people who can relate to what you're going through.
Zak, a ward of the state who has Down syndrome, has been put in a nursing facility at a young age because he doesn’t have a family and the state doesn’t have anywhere else for him to go, thinking he needed more care than he actually did. Eleanor, his case worker, is kind but speaks to and treats him like he’s a child instead of assuming competence. Zak makes a run for it, escaping the nursing home and eventually runs into Tyler, who’s down on his luck and running from trouble. Tyler treats Zak the same way he would any other individual and when Eleanor catches up to the two Tyler’s not shy about letting her know that the way she’s treating Zak is lowly and as bad as using the R-word. The exchange between Tyler and Eleanor regarding Zak’s understanding is an eye-opening moment for not just Eleanor, but the rest of the population. It speaks volumes to the gross undermining of those who have Down syndrome and the way society still shamefully treats them [sometimes]. This is also the moment my family and I let the waterworks flow.
Related: 7 Common Sense Ways to Improve Education for Kids With (and Without) Disabilities
Related: 6 Ways to Help Youth With Disabilities Increase Reciprocity in Friendships
From there the three of them go on an adventure to fulfill Zak’s lifelong dream of becoming a pro-wrestler. While Tyler’s troubles eventually catch up to him, the ending of the movie far surpassed my expectations and left me feeling as if I actually knew these characters. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, you’re missing out. Big time. But don’t just take my word for it. Instead, I turned to the Down syndrome community and asked them to give me one good reason why the public (you if you’re one of the few who has yet to see it) needs to watch “The Peanut Butter Falcon.” This is what they had to say:
This movie shows what a relationship should be like between an individual with Down syndrome and a typical person. People with Down syndrome want to be treated like everyone else. This type of relationship was beautifully displayed in “The Peanut Butter Falcon!” — Lauren D.
I love this movie because people unfamiliar with Down syndrome sometimes expect individuals with Down syndrome to live in “places like that.” But the movie is a real view of what a real person may feel. People with Down syndrome are not defined by their diagnosis; They have capabilities, dreams, and they want a place that’s “theirs.” — Lainey M.
This isn’t a story where the character who has a disability is an afterthought or a “side” character. It’s unique because the character with the disability is the “hero.” This is Zak’s story and it’s not about his disability at all. It’s about his hopes and dreams, disappointment and love, forgiveness and self discovery. – Ayesha S.
Tyler pushed Zak to be his equal and he didn’t allow him not to pull his own weight. While filming, Zak actually inspired Shia to become a better person and a true bond was formed. — Kelly M.
Adding to the above, my favorite part of the movie was when Zak tells Tyler, “I have to tell you…I am a Down syndrome person,” and Tyler responds, “I don’t give a sh*t.” I feel like someone outside of our community might be shocked but I was cheering him on on the inside. — Ayesha S.
This isn’t a movie that’s a heartfelt drama with no controversy, but it is an absolutely necessary movie to see. There are some harsh realities that we face as parents of children with Down syndrome and this highlights some of those realities. It also reminds us that all kinds of people are capable of much more than we sometimes give them credit for. We shouldn’t place limits on anyone based on our own assumptions. People really can surprise us in inspiring ways. — Brianna F.
This movie shows how having a relationship with someone who has Down syndrome (or really anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability) can change your life. Break it down to the most important things; Friendship, trust, honesty, and love. — Karen P.
“The Peanut Butter Falcon” kept my whole family entertained. The story line behind the movie was heartfelt and will move even the hardest family members into tears. — Jessica A.
I love that it shows that people with Down syndrome experience the same feelings that typical people do. A person with Down syndrome is as much of a person as you or I. —Larisa E.
One reason to watch “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is so you can be one more person to support an individual who has Down syndrome in the Arts and to support the neuro-typical movie makers who are trying to support artists of all genres who were born “different” but very able. Also, it’s a great film! — Genie M.
It’s funny, creative, heart-warming, and interesting! Zak shows us what life is all about! — Tina M.
While I did enjoy this movie, I still feel we can do better with the reality of having special needs. I did read a back story about this movie where Shia (who has had behavioral problems in his responsibility as an actor and star) was being late to set, acting out and causing stress to the production of the movie. While sitting off by himself, Zach went to Shia and expressed how important this opportunity was to him and asked Shia not to wreck it with his bad behavior. His plea made an impression on Shia and he later described this conversation as life changing and he turned around his behavior. Way to go, Zach! — Judy F.
Because inclusion matters and real, true loving relationships can exist between people with developmental differences. It will melt your heart watching those three friendships grow into a family. — Kate M.
Love that movie! It showed how people need to realize that people with Down syndrome have their own dreams and goals. — Becky L.
Inclusion, inclusion, inclusion! — Alicia C.
You can still rent “The Peanut Butter Falcon” at Redbox, but hurry before you have to wait until it comes out on cable television!
Read more stories like this on The Mighty:
10 Down Syndrome Blogs You Should Be Following
Why 'Spread the Word to End the Word' Is So Important
We Need to Talk About Bias Against People With Down Syndrome in the NHS
My Experience With Genetic Testing and Having a Son With Down Syndrome