This is the first film written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz. It’s really special. Yep — I’m going to dispense with that notion that a review has to wait to tell you how it feels about a movie until the end.
It’s all about Zak, a 22-year-old with Down syndrome played by an actor who also has it, Zack Gottsagen. He’s living in an assisted living facility in North Carolina where he keeps escaping, hoping to find the school of his pro wrestling hero, the Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church).
I love how this movie happened: The directors met Zack at a camp for disabled and non-disabled people and he expressed his desire to be a movie star. They wrote the script around him and his hopes and dreams.
One night, thanks to his roommate Carl (Bruce Dern), Zak escapes and sneaks on to the fishing boat of Tyler (Shia LeBeouf), who has just been denied the ability to sell crab without a license, who he burns everyone else’s boats. This sends Duncan and Ratboy, who is played by music artist Yelawolf, on his trail.
Zak and Tyler become friends after a long and arduous journey as they elude the twosome, get baptized and also stay a step ahead of Zak’s social worker, Eleanor (Dakota Johnson). Wrestling fans will enjoy seeing Jake Roberts and Mick Foley in major roles.
This movie really made me emotional. Hopefully, you’ll feel the same way. As someone who has lived a life in pro wrestling, I really understood Zak’s need to perform. The idea that what exists on an old VHS tape not meaning as much today is something that we, as film fans, feel every day. I love that there was still magic, as Zak still gets a chance to have a match.