Zak runs away from his care home to make his dream of becoming a wrestler come true.
If you’re looking for an inspiring, uplifting, and inclusive film, this is it! Zak (Zack Gottsagen) has Down Syndrome, is a ward of the state and living in a nursing home. He wants more from life and after watching countless hours of his wrestling hero, The Saltwater Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), he escapes thanks to his roommate’s (Bruce Dern) help. Meeting the troubled fisherman, Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), Zak begins to live life like never before.
The message within the film is readily apparent, but never too much. It’s NOT a Hallmark movie! As Tyler treats Zak like anyone else who has certain strengths and weaknesses, we see this young man in a different light. Their relationship is incredibly genuine and heartwarming, both of them helping one another in the most unlikely ways. This is one of LaBeouf’s most authentic roles, creating a realistic yet flawed character with a heart and a troubled past. Gottsagen’s performance is incredible as he captures our hearts with his smile and us to see who Zak truly is. The all-star cast is an indication that the message this film sends is an important one as its beauty has the power to change our perception of others in a positive way.
Against all odds, this film works, thanks to the fine work of the veteran cast and newcomer Zack Gottsagen and a smart script that avoids the pitfall of treating its characters as punchlines. Though the story is improbable, the sincere nature in which it it told saves this effort from becoming a melodramatic exercise. More than anything, this is a vital movie that we need at the moment as it reminds us of the power of a good turn and the way in which acts of simple kindness elevates us all.