Zack Gottsagen

Why Everyone in the WORLD Needs “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

I’ll get to The Peanut Butter Falcon in a minute, but first I need to tell you about someone I loved.
My Aunt Jo Ann was born with Down Syndrome, so I grew up thinking every family had a celebrated member like her. She was different, yes, but she was also our collective heartbeat. She finished our prayers, decided on restaurants when we went out and Jo Ann always got the best piece of chicken at dinner. She was close to all of us in her own way, which is how I knew Jo Ann wasn’t like the shallow depictions we usually see of someone with Downs. She had loads of friends at the school she attended and dreamed of a family. She had healthy crushes on the dreamboats of her day (like Elvis Presley and William Shatner) but Jo Ann had a dose of salt too and would put you in your place if needed (ask me about the time she called me a “fat pig.”).
Jo Ann died from pneumonia last year and my family aches from the loss like it just happened. I visited her grave two weeks ago and still struggled to accept that she wasn’t waiting elsewhere for us, asking to watch Caddyshack again.
That’s why I can’t review The Peanut Butter Falcon without bias. I watch young Zack Gottsagen onscreen and see the embodiment of everything Jo Ann hoped for. Recognition. Acceptance. And a burning desire to be a part of the world everyone else takes for granted. Continue reading →

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MOVIE REVIEW: “Everest” (Seriously, WHY Climb It?)

Jon Krakauer published a book in 1997 called Into Thin Air. It was his personal account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster that killed 8 people and left several more stranded in a life-threatening storm. The novel described the guide-agencies on Mount Everest and how they were paid big bucks to help climbers reach the summit. My husband (just a boyfriend at the time) LOVED Into Thin Air, citing the heroic circumstances and how they risked their lives for each other. I read the book because I liked him and wanted share his enthusiasm but I found more hubris in it than heroism. I thumbed through passages about people struggling to survive and wondered “Why were they up there in the first place?” Continue reading →