Hot Take: What. The. Hell? (And why was it actually pretty awesome?)
Within minutes of the viewing experience that is Swiss Army Man, you’re well aware that you’re in for something completely different. How different? Well, flatulence, masturbation, drinking the spit of a corpse who, oh by the way, talks and feces all play a major role in the storytelling. And that’s the best I can do without any major spoilers.
Swiss Army Man is weird. Really weird. Really fucking weird. That’s okay though. Actually, it’s really okay. Honestly, it’s the best part of the film. Directors Daniels (as they’re affectionately known) disarms you with a tale that in no way, shape or form is sensible yet it feels impossible not to get caught up in the story and the underlying themes of loneliness and obsession amongst others. It’s both ridiculous and substantial. It’s silly and endearing. It’s special, unique and truly one of those times when you can say it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and this time actually be spot on.
As Hank, a man stuck on a deserted island about to kill himself until a corpse washes up on shore, Paul Dano does weird better than anyone right now and the part is perfectly cast. As the corpse named Manny, Daniel Radcliffe does what we’ve been waiting for him to do. No, not fart for 95 minutes. I mean he does do that, too, but that’s not the point here. Radcliffe overcomes his bigger than life Harry Potter persona and becomes something incomparable. Taking into consideration the level with which Harry Potter has played in his career and the challenge it is to overcome such roles (Imagine Macaulay Culkin as someone other than Kevin from Home Alone, I dare you! Uncle Buck only counts if you remember his character’s name), this is a monumental feat. That isn’t even mentioning the fact that Radcliffe convincingly plays a talking corpse. The two have some of the best chemistry a duo has had in some time in what essentially is a buddy comedy. However, calling it a buddy comedy feels sort of like a slight on the film’s magnitude.
Swiss Army Man delivers a polarizing film that you will either get completely wrapped up in or stay so far disconnected from, you’ll probably ask, “Why are we here?” (Unless you weren’t able to sneak your corpse friend in, then you’ll probably ask, “Why am I here?”) What’s unique about this film is that for those asking, “Why are we here?” who have not connected with the movie, what they don’t realize is the movie is actually asking the same thing.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- No Rules
The gloves are off in Swiss Army Man. Thanks to the ridiculous premise of a suicidal man befriending a corpse, the film can go wherever the heck it wants and do whatever it feels like. The Daniels waste absolutely none of these opportunities and deliver something utterly unique.
- Need Weird? Book ’em, Dano!
All future roles of peculiarity featuring odd behavior need to go to Paul Dano. No one sells it weird as normal as well as him and he’s one of the more underrated actors of the last decade.
- Where’s Harry?
All evidence of Harry Potter is completely gone as Radcliffe plays an inquisitive, flatulent corpse with an uncanny survival instinct. (Where’s Alanis Morissette when you need her?)
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- It’s Not Really A Con But This Isn’t For Everyone
There is no way Swiss Army Man will be universally loved. It’s out there. Way out there. Some people don’t want to go out there and that’s okay. Makes for a roomier theater.