Inspired by watching decades-old matches of his all-time hero Salt Water Redneck (Thomas Haden Church), Young Zak (introducing - Zack Gottsagen) dreams of becoming a professional wrestler. Misplaced in a facility for seniors because of a lack of more suitable services for a young man with Down syndrome, he makes several attempts to escape so he can attend the North Carolina wrestling school advertised endlessly on the old tapes he's been watching.
With the help of his elderly roommate, Zak makes a run for it to find his idol and to attend the wrestling school. On his journey with no money, map or even pants, he meets another man on the run. Tyler (Shia LaBeouf) is a thief who has been stealing another man's livelihood, to survive. Wrestling with his own demons, Tyler and Zak's paths cross and they set sail on a journey they could not have imagined. Tyler, chased by a pair of angry crabbers looking for retribution and out for blood, and Zak, hunted by Eleanor (Dakota Johnson) a conscientious aide from the senior's residence; these two misfits form an unlikely bond as they travel together, meeting interesting characters along the way.
The film is written and directed by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz in their feature film debuts. The leading role was written especially for Zack Gottsagen a remarkable young man whom Nilson met six years ago at a camp for actors with disabilities. Wanting to shine a light on his abilities, Schwartz and Nilson decided to create a modern-day fable about two strangers, fellow outlaws who find an unexpected bond that changes both their lives.
This film is the perfect vehicle for bad boy LaBeouf who fell from grace several times over, to show his sensitive side. Here he manages to find a perfect balance playing a character who is troubled, with a soft underbelly. Zack plays his role with an honesty that cannot be faked and shows us that he just wants to be able to do what other people do. He fully engages as an actor and comes up with spontaneous and authentic emotional moments. Throw Dakota in the mix and you have perfect harmony and chemistry between the actors that comes through. A feel-good movie that's not all sugar sweet and smelling of roses, but comes up punchy with sinister bad guys hot on its trail.
The soundtrack doesn't go unnoticed with its spirited, eclectic collection of music that evokes the exhilaration of an open-ended road trip. It includes bluegrass, gospel, country, rockabilly, folk and indie rock from diverse artists. Running For So Long (House A Home) written by Parker Ainsworth, Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz and performed by Ainsworth, Butch Walker, Paris Jackson and Jessie Payo is the perfect song for a nostalgic ending of a movie you wish would go on for that little bit longer, because you didn't want to let go.