At face value, Swiss Army Man is about a magical, flatulent corpse. That said, what I’m about to tell you may come as a surprise, or it may not; this is my favorite movie of the year so far. No, not just because fart jokes are hilarious. They are. That’s not my opinion. It is a hard fact.
Swiss Army Man stars Paul Dano as Hank and Daniel Radcliffe as Manny the Corpse. Dano made a lasting impression on me with films like Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood. His range is impressive and he possesses a beautifully natural talent for his art.
Radcliffe is slightly less familiar to me. I know that seems insane, but I only saw two of those delightful Harry Potter movies. Personally, I’m better acquainted with The Woman in Black and one particularly side-splitting episode of Extras.
Given their previous bodies of work, both men exceeded expectations that were already pretty high in Swiss Army Man.
Using a flimsy noose to spell the end of his once beautiful life, Hank (Dano) spots Manny (Radcliffe) lying on the beach near the surf. Upon unfortunately closer inspection, Hank discovers that the body is quite windy indeed. So he does what any of us would do; he frees himself from the island by riding the cadaver across the ocean like a jet ski.
Finding land, Hank decides that he can’t leave his new friend behind. Whether it’s just to say “thanks” or for his own sanity in the interest of not being alone, Hank straps the business suit sporting stiff to his back and starts his journey to civilization.
When it would seem that all hope is lost, something unexpected happens; Manny starts to speak. Hank’s conviction that his life still may be waiting for him back home is restored by this miracle and the two venture on together.
It’s no Revenant, but the duo certainly encounter their fair share of road blocks and hurdles along the way. Hank teaches Manny about all of the things he’s lost or forgotten since his demise, and Manny shows Hank that life can be quite enjoyable even when it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel has gone dim.
Swiss Army Man is an ardent and captivating illustration of the formidable but often worthwhile experience of human relationships. It is an in depth look at why we do — or do not — put ourselves out there; a touching glance at the leap of faith that it takes to be vulnerable.
If that’s not enough for you, the audience also gets a tasteful glimpse of Radcliffe’s bum. Harry Potter? More like Hairy Bottom.
This movie is most of what you’d expect, but then it gives us so much more. It’s disarmingly witty and sharp. It’s bizarre, sincere, thought-provoking, and it’s got one quality that so many other films lack; watchability.
Wrapped up in a score that matches the film in peculiarity and buoyancy, Swiss Army Man takes the audience by the hand and doesn’t let go. Incidentally, composers Andy Hull and Robert McDowell of the Manchester Orchestra did something extraordinary with this score, but you should see it for yourself.
Before the film, Writers and Co-Directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert came in to do a brief introduction. This is their first feature film, and they were just as lovely as their movie. They walked in, both bespectacled and wearing caps, and spoke mainly about how excited they were for the picture without giving anything away. They even had us all stand up and do an exercise called “Shake it Out”. The idea was that we’d shake out whatever may be weighing on our minds and only be in the moment. I think it worked.
This is a once in a lifetime movie. We’ve never seen anything like it and we probably never will again. I was blown away and I know you will be too. It’s a real toot. I mean hoot! A fartwarming tale. Heartwarming! It’s a gas! I’m leaving.
… farting corpse.