The freak flag is flying high in the magical and creepy “Swiss Army Man,” and I wouldn’t want it any other way. This movie, which defies categorization, is the strangest experiment in the bizarre that I’ve seen in years. I’m still not quite sure what I saw, but I do know that I enjoyed it.
In what I would call an eccentric kooky version of “Cast Away,” the film centers around Hank (Paul Dano), a hopeless man who is stranded on a desert island. Hank has resigned himself that he is stuck forever and will never make it home. When mysterious corpse Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the island, a beautiful (and possibly imaginary) friendship blossoms.
The earnest acting turns from Dano (who is obviously incapable of a less than perfect performance) and Radcliffe (as the infamous farting corpse) ground the story. These two fearless young actors play their characters with exceptional sincerity and gusto, both fully absorbed in the wacky world that’s created onscreen. The leads are wholly devoted to the fearless vision of the film, and their relationship is believable within the mythology that’s created.
Co-directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (billed here as DANIELS), rose to fame directing wacky music videos (most famously Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What“). Their creativity and originality soars, proving that the duo are more than well-suited for the independent film world. The movie is stuffed with offbeat pop culture references, extended riffs on sex and religion, an imaginative original score, loads of rich imagery, and beautiful scenery of, well, garbage.
“Swiss Army Man” is an existential, emotional romp that more than simply touches on the absurd — it sails far, far beyond (albeit on the back of a farting corpse jet ski). But despite what you’ve heard, this touching tale is so much more than a simple series of fart jokes.
This movie gained early negative buzz punctuated by reported mass walkouts by the first audience to see it. It has quickly gained a negative reputation and is known — even among those who don’t follow Sundance — as “the farting corpse” movie. It’s so much more than that.
Yes, “Swiss Army Man” does prominently feature a dead man that passes an illogically massive amount of gas. But it’s not ABOUT a farting corpse; it’s actually a kind of beautiful and wonderfully strange movie about loneliness and the human need to connect with others. But it’s not for everyone. While I liked this movie, I didn’t fall in love with it.
This movie is an excellent example of what independent cinema is supposed to be about — it’s about pushing boundaries and exploring ideas, regardless of how ridiculous those ideas may look on paper. If you have an open mind and enjoy fresh takes on universal themes, I would encourage you to check this one out.