Mark Twain

My Favorite Movie of 2019: The Peanut Butter Falcon

My Favorite Movie of 2019: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Welcome to my choice for the best movie of 2019. After hearing rave reviews from friends[i] and The World and Everything In It, we decided we wouldn’t wait for The Peanut Butter Falcon to leave the theaters and hit RedBox. Our decision was rewarded with one of our favorite movies we’ve seen in a long time.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a story about two broken young men. Zak (played by Zack Gottsagen) is a young man with Down syndrome, whose family has abandoned him. A ward of the state, he now lives in a nursing home and longs for family and becoming the professional wrestler he believes he was made to be (“The Peanut Butter Falcon” will eventually be his wrestling alter-ego).

Tyler (played by Shia LaBeouf) is a young man who at first blush seems to as different a human being from Zak as one could imagine. He’s a sullen fisherman who is thieving crab cages to make ends meet. Beneath the surface, though, is a young man struggling with grief and guilt over the death of his brother.

The world of the two young men collide as they both are on the lam and headed toward a murky future they only can hope is better than what lies behind them. The story riffs on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn without being derivative. Chasing Zak down is his kindhearted caretaker Eleanor (played by the charming Dakota Johnson) from the nursing home. Chasing Tyler down are two thuggish fisherman who are after a pound of his flesh for his theft.

Along the way Tyler’s hard, self-loathing heart will be softened by Zak and Zak’s crushed spirit will be brought to life by Tyler.

Of Mice and Men’s 3.8 Rating and Handling Criticism

Of Mice and Men’s 3.8 Rating and Handling Criticism

One of my favorite all-time books is the great American novel Of Mice and Men. This year I’ve been on a bit of a John Steinbeck binge. I’ve picked up some of his classics that I enjoyed in year’s past and I’ve picked up a couple that were new to me. I picked up Of Mice and Men for the first time in twenty-five years and dropped myself into the world of George and Lennie. It was just as immersive and heart-wrenching as the first time I read it as a fifteen-year-old. No, it was better. As perfect a novel as has ever been written.

I’m not a big crier, but my eyes welled, and then tears streamed down my cheeks as George has Lennie close his eyes and imagine their life on their own farm in the closing scene. Maybe you remember the emotional wallop or reading that final scene? Maybe you cried as well?

I went to Goodreads, where I rate and review books I’ve written (if you have an account, friend me!). My jaw dropped. On a 5 star scale, Steinbeck’s masterpiece has received a 3.86 rating with over 1.7 million ratings. A 3.86 for one of the finest pieces of writing on the planet. As of this writing 51,618 people rated Steinbeck’s novel a 1 out of 5 stars. 51,618 people, more than the population of Prescott, Arizona, decided that Steinbeck’s novel wasn’t just average or disappointing… no, it deserved the worst possible ranking they could give a book.

Confession: I handle criticism poorly.

By “handle criticism poorly” I don’t mean that I don’t receive criticism or seek it out. I do both. What I mean is that I tend to hear criticism in BOLD and CAPS LOCK. My default is to overstate the criticism, to universalize it, and to see too much merit in the criticism. I can slide into doubting my calling and gifting.

Fellow discouraged traveler, remember, 51,618 people gave Of Mice and Men 1 star.