Swiss Army Man

I think when I masturbate I’m going to think about your mom.

Year Released : 2016swiss_army_man_poster
Director : Dan Kwan
Cast : Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe

There are some things that I never thought I’d write when I started this website two years ago, and most of which are still true because I’ve yet to even think of them, so imagine my surprise that I am able to write the words “Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting, undead corpse”. I realise that even just uttering that sentence might turn off some of those that are reading this review without having heard of this film before.

Much like a few of my more recent reviews, there is a chance that you will have heard of this film due to it’s unusual nature, not to mention Daniel Radcliffe’s admirable attempt to prove he can do more than just play a teenage wizard. Just for clarification, the reason I am reviewing a few more better known films recently is because there aren’t that many tiny films that really interest me enough to watch them at the moment.

Just to give you an idea of what I think of this film (I only decided to review it after watching it, rather than waiting until the end of the year review), this will be getting something that I stated I wouldn’t give out again just a few weeks ago.

Plot

Hank (Dano) got stranded on a tiny desert island some time ago and his “messages in a bottle” (or items to that affect) have had no response, so he decides to end his life by hanging himself. During the act, he notices a body that has washed up on shore (Radcliffe). In his desperation Hank tries to revive the long dead body, all before again going back to hang himself in despair, but at this point he notices the body doing strange actions, such as farting on a regular basis, and he soon realises when he sees the body float and seemingly move at will that this could be his way off of the island.

He rides the body like a dolphin to the nearest other landmass, but again feels suicidal when there are no signs of life anywhere near by. Soon after he realises that the corpse isn’t as dead as it would appear, and he is able to have a conversation with the person he calls “Manny”. Manny has no memory of his life, so Hank decides to try and educate him about the basics of life, and it isn’t long before Manny falls in love with the woman on Hank’s phone (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), believing it to be his own girlfriend.

With Manny’s body being the personification of a swiss army knife, Hank decides to use it to his advantage, but how long is it until Manny finds out the truth about the woman, potentially putting the friendship at risk?

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So, that sounds unique….

It sounds unique because it is. “Swiss Army Man” is one of the most original films that I have ever seen and other than an ending that (spoiler alert) sort of reminded me a bit to the ending of M. Night Shamaylan’s “The Village”, there wasn’t a single shred of anything that I had already seen before. It is one of the best original screenplays I think I’ve ever had the opportunity to unfold in front of my eyes.

The reason for this is not only because you’re watching a man using corpse’s penis as a compass (another sentence that I never thought I’d write), but you’re watching a man effectively having a father/son relationship with a dead body, teaching it about the world and life’s lessons. In that sense the film is actually somewhat beautiful, and it’s disappointing that most will be put off by the aspect of it being about a farting corpse, whereas in reality that is only a minor aspect to the film.

Comedically “Swiss Army Man” is hilarious, with Daniel Radcliffe’s completely deadpan delivery of tickeningly (if that’s even a word) funny lines proving to be very enjoyable. Deadpan has always been my preferred method of telling jokes, with some of my favourite jokes of all time being ludicrously funny, all whilst being enhanced by it being told in a completely serious manner, so in that sense it definitely works for me. For example, the quote I put at the beginning of the review “I think when I masturbate I’m going to think about your mom,” is delivery in such a way that it had me laughing out loud, which those that know me will be able to tell you I don’t do that often.

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The relationship between Dano’s “Hank” and Radcliffe’s “Manny” is actually quite complex and beautiful, especially a scene in which they are recreating a journey on a bus, and you can tell the pain in Hank’s voice as he is desperately trying to help Manny understand, whilst also hiding his own sorrow, and in many ways it is the ever opening window into Hank’s personality and mental state that proves to be rather interesting towards the end of the film, as you realise that he is actually a very lonely person and being rescued might not actually be the best thing for him.

In many ways that shows that this film isn’t just the farcical comedy that you would probably expect, and in many ways is actually quite a beautiful way of story telling. Much like another film I review recently, “Swiss Army Man” gave me a lot to think about in regards to it’s moral points, and it made me feel a lot of different emotions, which is something that I love when watching a film.

Whilst only having a very minimal soundtrack (usually just the same song), the music definitely adds to the experience of the movie and helps enhance scenes which seem life affirming, and that’s what this film is, it’s a lesson in how to help others, and how to appreciate the little things in life, such as the aforementioned mock-bus trip, in which they spend what must be at least ten minutes pretending to ride the bus.

It’s a film that I suspect most will avoid due to it’s initial appearances, but I beg you not to ignore this and watch it whenever you can.

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Summary

Brilliant and humble, “Swiss Army Man” is a pure delight and despite initially saying that you would probably never see this stamp perfect-459230_640again after Captain Fantastic, I am again rolling out the “PERFECT” stamp. It may not be the best film of all time, but for what is it trying to be, plus many different elements that are put together to make this, I couldn’t find a single reason not to give it the perfect stamp.

Yes, it’s a slightly silly concept, but it’s a worthwhile concept and one that, other than an ever so slightly familiar ending, was largely perfect. Dano and Radcliffe are perfect together, and I can’t praise this movie highly enough.

This is never going to be a popular movie for the simple reason that I think the farting corpse aspect will put a lot of people off, but I would urge you all to watch it if you can.

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3 thoughts on “Swiss Army Man

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