Swiss Army Man
Starring Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe
Never has a film used farts or farting with such vigor and purpose. “Swiss Army Man” will not appeal to certain audiences, it will repeal and confuse those unwilling or unable to see a deeper meaning. Others who can understand the films twisted, but psychological undertones, layered meanings about friendship and living life to the fullest, will be engaged and entertained. “Swiss Army Man” is directed by two first time feature filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, together they are “Daniels”. Regardless of where your opinion lands on the film (some think it’s brilliant, other walked out during its Sundance debut), there is nothing else like it. The concept from Daniels, using a corpse as a human Swiss Army Knife is genius. “Swiss Army Man” has a sprinkle of what “Lars and the Real Girl” had, neither film was just a movie about a sex doll or a farting corpse.
Hank (Dano) has run away from his life, finding himself on the end of a hanging rope, ready to say goodbye from an island in the middle of the pacific. A corpse washes up on the beach, coaxing Hank off the noose. What happens next is unbelievable, as Hank discovers that a dead body, lovingly named Manny (Radcliffe), could become the best friend he never had. Turns out this corpse is very useful. Clean water flows deep from Manny’s bowels, his farts can ignite fire, his teeth function as scissors, and his erection a compass. When Manny begins to communicate (whether it’s for real or Hank’s imagination is up to the viewer), Hank begins to share all the qualities about being alive that Manny has forgotten.
The most startlingly original, twistedly entertaining, defiantly original feature film of 2016.
Sometimes you can find your imagination in the most unlikely of places. Daniels presents the most startlingly original, twistedly entertaining, defiantly original feature film of 2016. Christopher McCandless wrote, “Happiness only real when shared”. Hank learns that sentiment as he creates a childlike world with his new friend in the middle of the forest, exploring everything he walked away from in his own life. “Swiss Army Man” takes us on imaginary bus rides, Jurassic Park reenactments (Laura Dern should get a kick out of being singled out), and when Hank rides the farting corpse like a jet ski in the opening titles, you might think you have now seen it all.
I don’t know if there has ever been a movie that so successfully combines stupidity and sheer creativity. Furthermore, giving farting such purpose and the natural act a unifier between two friends. “Swiss Army Man” could rightfully be called the unconventional buddy comedy of the decade, yet it’s the score by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell that cues the audience that this story is meant to be serious within context, that the audience is indeed supposed to feel something, self-reflect, and leave the theater a better person. It’s the best performance Radcliffe has given since the final Harry Potter films. Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine”, “There Will Be Blood”) once again pushes the boundaries of his ever impressive talent. The films third act proves to be its weakest, as “Swiss Army Man” searches for a conclusion, repeating flashbacks we have already been reminded of once in an already short film.
Farts have never been more central to a story, fun, and moving.