Swiss Army Man Review – A Must See for Fart Fans!
It was 3:30pm on Day 2 of Sundance 2016 and everyone at the Eccles Theater was excited to be at the World Premiere of Swiss Army Man yet had no idea what they were about to witness. Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert better known as the DANIELS, Swiss Army Man tells the story of a man named Hank (Paul Dano) who is stranded on some unknown remote island. Thinking that he will never see civilization again, Hank decides to take his own life until a dead body washes ashore. Happy that he is no longer alone, Hank begins to interact with the dead body which suddenly comes back to life. Hank, while freaked out at first, soon learns that his new found friend, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) has special powers and together will attempt to find the way back home.
After reading that plot description, I am pretty sure most are saying, “What the Fuck?” which is actually a line of dialogue that Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character Sarah says near the end of the film. After sleeping on the film for 24 hours, I still cannot begin to state whether this is a brilliant and unique comedic masterpiece or an inside joke that very few will get and appreciate. In the first 5 minutes of this film, Paul Dano’s character Hank sees Manny’s dead body wash ashore. As he begins to investigate the body, it begins to fart uncontrollably. What happened next had me at a loss for words: Hank climbs aboard Manny’s dead farting body and rides him into the ocean like a jet ski.
At just five minutes in, some of the first of many more walk outs to come began to occur. I honestly don’t know what to make of this film because in-between the fart and erection jokes, there is an interesting story about a lonely man that finds hope by talking to a dead body. The character of Hank has a lot of layers to him and is really a complicated person. It kind of goes without saying that there is something unique and different within Swiss Army Man. The problem is I am not quite sure if most of the audience got that in-between the multiple scenes of Manny farting and getting erections.
One thing I do know for sure is that the music choices throughout the entire film are fantastic. Given the fact that the DANIELS worked on music videos in the past, I am really impressed with the song selection and loved the moments where the two character began to sing. Like the rest of the film, the music choices here were definitely different and “out there” but they really fit the overall tone of the film. The soundtrack here really embraced the weird story and arguably even added another layer to it.
It should also be noted that this isn’t your typical lonely man survival tale but rather a bromance adventure unlike anything you have ever seen before. It is not something that you see everyday and I felt that the DANIELS really blurred the lines of multiple genres at once while making the film. There is some really standout imagery and you can tell the DANIELS know how to blur the lines of real vs. surreal moments throughout. While I liked these elements, I think this is where the problem lies with how the film comes together for most traditional filmgoers. The film is really a hodgepodge of genres that I think most who view this film will write it off as silly and juvenile with some great actors. I don’t know if people will look deeper into the underlying factors that these two directors are trying to convey but life, love, and friendship.
Speaking of great actors, I am genuinely surprised that Paul Dano signed on to do this film considering the source material and his current track record over the past few years. During the Q&A, Dano said he was interested in working with the DANIELS before he was even given the script. I will say that Dano has always taken on very unique roles but this one is by far his strangest role to date. I also need to take a moment to praise Daniel Radcliffe for doing this film. I think ever since the Harry Potter franchise ended, Radcliffe has tried every single genre and I give him a lot of credit for not trying to stick to a specific type of role. He has played everything from a lead in a romantic comedy to a farting corpse. You have to give the man some credit; he is really taking on some unique material.
All in all, despite not being 100% sure what to make of this film as a whole, I give the DANIELS a ton of credit for trying something different that had multiple layers to it. This story is nothing that you would expect and I admire filmmakers who take chances. I also give Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead a lot of credit for being part of something that if nothing else was entertaining and rather deep, even if most audiences might find it was a bit too much to handle at times. I am glad that A24 picked up the film because they seem like the ideal company to release it because they really know how to market films that truly standout. I truly think there is an audience for this film, even if it is a very small one. Swiss Army Man is one bizarre mindfuck but one that you will remember and think back upon throughout the entire year.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Swiss Army Man is a 8 out of 10.