8.5/10 When the trailer and title of this film came to my attention, it looked like a film that wasn’t my cup of tea and that didn’t spark much of my interest. However, after a recommendation from a fellow film lover that I trust and the good word of mouth I had been hearing, I figured I would give it a shot. I am extremely happy that I did because this is one of the best films of the year so far. Now don’t get me wrong, it is nothing groundbreaking and most likely won’t score any Oscar nominations. It’s not a grand, sweeping epic or a technical marvel. However, this is so far the feel good film of 2019 and a film I believe this country and the world needs right now. In divided times, a film that has strong emotional content, will make you laugh, possibly cry but definitely feel all warm and fuzzy inside is a welcome change of pace from what is normally in the cinemas right now. The acting across the board is fantastic and the extremely underrated Shia LaBeouf continues to amaze me with how much he has grown as an actor. Zack Gottsagen, whom has Down Syndrome in real life, gives a terrific performance with a lot of heart that immediately draws you to him. Dakota Johnson proves to be more than just a pretty face with her down to earth, caring performance that she delivers. I didn’t realize how stacked this cast is in terms of supporting characters. John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern and Jon Bernthal all pop up in this film, some of them for more time than others but the fact that they are all in this film was impressive and welcomed. The plot is simple but very effective and the lean running time and solid pacing make this a film that could be re-watched and enjoyed multiple times. Even though many supporting characters only pop up briefly from a blind believer to various retirement home residents, their screen time is never wasted and always moving the plot forward in a memorable way. Both the twangy fever dream of a score and the soundtrack (particularly the end credits song, “Running For So Long (House A Home)”) are very well done and worth seeking out on their own. The balance of buddy film, comedy, drama, wrestling adventure, etc. all blend perfectly well together which shows strength from the writer/directors behind this film. This being their first feature length film is very impressive and makes me look forward to what they have in store next. The flaws are very minor but there are a couple. The film’s bad guys are pretty easily able to chase down the good guys which seemed way too easy for them with no explanation of how they did it. A couple of moments sacrifice realism for a feel good moment (a wrestling moment near the end is the best example of this) and the character whom plays the head of the retirement home is a little over the top and unrealistic for my tastes. That being said, you won’t mind most of these flaws because you will be too busy smiling and enjoying what could very well be the surprise hit of 2019. Thank God for word of mouth because this is a film that deserves to be seen, whether you have a peanut butter allergy or not.
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