I would have loved to have been there when the idea for Swiss Army Man was pitched to investors and studios. Why, you ask?
Two words: magical farts.
With a movie that consists primarily of two characters—one being a delusional castaway on the verge of suicide, and the other being a corpse that possess magical abilities like propellent farts and a penis that serves as a compass, weird doesn’t even begin to cut it, and that makes this movie all the more wonderful.
But on top of being one of the weirdest movies you’ll probably ever see, Swiss Army Man is a film so full of life, love and beauty that it stands as one of the best you’ll see all year.
Hank (Paul Dano) is on the verge of suicide. He has a noose around his neck, and is just about to end it all when he spots a body washed ashore on his deserted island in the middle of the ocean. This is Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), a lifeless corpse that could be real, or it could be the delusions of a man without food or water. To the audience it doesn’t really matter: all that does matter is he can talk, create fire, produce water, and propel themselves with the power of farts.
At once a film about survival, Swiss Army Man verges very quickly into the realm of science-fiction, and then rom-com in the blink of an eye, all while serving as a meditation on life, death, happiness and isolation. It’s density is often bewildering, but also incredibly thought-provoking.
Both Dano and Radcliffe deliver some excellent performances that sway from surrealistic comedy to bleak drama as the film covers everything from suicide, daddy issues, and unrequited love. Their initial comedic chemistry blends into something…different…later on in the film, but I won’t go into that. Just know that it is a film so unique, so beautiful, and so absolutely funny that it is an experience you will never be able to replicate ever again nor ever forget.
Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (listed simply as Daniels) have crafted something truly special here as every element of the film produces a laugh, a smile, and the sense that this is wholly original. With its wickedly hilarious a Capella score and zany story, it is a film that is not only outrageous in concept, but completely otherworldly in delivery as it continually surprises with its amount of depth and heart, producing guffaws while also hitting you right in the feels.
It’s not very often that a movie fully embraces itself in its weirdness, but Swiss Army Man is definitely one of them. Bizarre, silly, over-the-top, outrageous, gross, lovable, wonderful, and heartwarming are all words to describe this anomaly of filmmaking, but it will speak to everyone a little differently. One word will be on everyone’s lips, though: unforgettable.