If one part suffers, every part suffers along with it.
Peanut Butter Falcon advertises itself as a “modern-day Aesop’s fable.” While many will interpret this as an expression of timelessness, the truth is the film is ultimately forgettable. Lasting works of narrative reside in our hearts only when built upon the structure of a complete narrative.
Fables, or tales, relate a series of events with no more significant meaning than the events themselves. Start a little later in the chain of events, or cut the retelling short, and you change the understanding of the tale.
Complete stories relate a constellation of events that, when shifted around—or eliminated—maintain a significance beyond themselves. The relationship between the events holds the meaning of a story.
In Aliens, James Cameron left out an entire sequence of narrative events. In the original release, the film kept what happened on the planet before Ripley’s arrival a mystery. Subsequent Director’s Cut editions reinserted this sequence back into position. Some appreciated this extra insight, while others believed the original editorial decision correct.
A comparison of both versions of Aliens reveals an essential aspect of the film: the presence of a complete story. While the removed sequence represents a significant part of the narrative, its absence fails to impact the meaning of the film.
Now, do the same with Bruce Dern’s scenes in Peanut Butter Falcon, or end the film with the wrestling match’s final blow, and see what happens to the “story.”
Peanut Butter Falcon is a charming tale—and nothing more. While the key players are in place (a Main Character, an Influence Character, and a Relationship Story), the final analysis reveals the absence of something more significant to be acquired from their relationship to one another. When you can remove a part and lose sight of the whole, it was never a part of something more.
Tales entertain; stories enlighten.