Tuesday, July 5, 2016

[Review] Swiss Army Man


Wholesomely billed as the "Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse film", Swiss Army Man gained a cult following of sorts before the film even saw release. Helmed by Dan Kwan and Dan Scheinert aka 'Daniels' (random fact: this duo directed the "Turn Down For What" music video), it's as strange and offbeat as you'd imagine (There Will Be Walkouts), but it also possesses a unique charm.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a remote Pacific island, and he's about to hang himself. But suddenly he spots a dead body that washed ashore, who we will come to know as Manny (Radcliffe). When Hank inspects the body, a prolonged trumpet toot squeaks out from Manny's butt. Pretty soon, Manny starts ripping ass so profusely that he propels into the sea like a motorboat. It's then that Hank realizes that there's some life... or something left inside of Manny.

The more Hank communicates with Manny, the more Manny's consciousness bubbles, and he eventually begins to speak (like a real boy!). Turns out, Manny's physicality comes in handy. He can collect drinking water, his boner can be used as a compass guide, and he can ignite fireballs with his farts in order to scare wild bears away (Oh, if only Leo DiCaprio could've done this in The Revenant). Kudos to the sound team too for providing a variety of sonically realistic farts, whether it's a mud duck, The Taco Bell of Doom, or a 3rd wave rumbler. There's also an undeniably hilarious running gag of Hank and Manny harmoniously Da-Da-Daa-Daa-Daa-ing the triumphant Jurassic Park theme.

In a contrast to all the toilet humor, this thing is beautifully filmed and rendered with the polished clarity of a nature documentary--utilizing the deep green scenery and sandy coastlines. Paul Dano plays his most sympathetic character to date, which I suppose isn't that hard because he's been in some really hatable roles in the past. Daniel Radcliffe is great as well with his shamelessly odd performance; let's just say this is a long way off from Harry Potter. The two manage to form a heartfelt buddy bond, despite the... unconventionality of it all.

The thin plot can't help but feel a tad overstretched, but luckily the runtime is just about 88 minutes. The themes of introspection, loneliness, and finding love get a bit clouded, but the climax still engrosses and mystifies. Everything patiently builds to an ambiguous conclusion that is equal parts M. Night Shyamalan and Fight Club (or should I say Fart Club?).

Swiss Army Man is a film that will take a few viewings to fully dissect. Or maybe what's there is just exactly what's there. *Fart*

( 8/10 )

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