In the first few minutes of Swiss Army Man, our shipwrecked protagonist rides a washed up corpse like a fart propelled jet ski to land. While the moment is strange and may make viewers question what kind of movie they’re watching, it is equally funny and uplifting.
Many people complain about how boring and repetitive cinema is right now. I agree that there are too many sequels, prequels and unworthy reboots. If you are also tired of the Hollywood tripe and the idea of riding a farting corpse to freedom isn’t too outlandish for you, then you must see Swiss Army Man.
Hank (Paul Dano) is the lost young man who finds this unique dead body, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). Hank brings the body with him after their miraculous escape from a tiny island and soon discovers that the body can spray drinking water out of its mouth, talk and many other useful things. Together, they try to find their way back to civilization while Hank tries to explain life to the dead Manny.
Some of the best moments of the film focus on Hank trying to teach Manny about the world. He creates images and representations out of the trash they find. Hank even creates a fake buss out of tree branches to teach Manny about life, love and what is and is not socially acceptable. Manny soaks it all in and has many questions. He is very childlike and innocent, it is one of the most endearing qualities you can give to a talking corpse.
Many of these moments rely on very quick editing that make the film feel even more surreal. As Hank explains bits of life to Manny, and images cut from a dog made of milk jugs, to Hank manipulating Manny’s hands. Best of all, nearly every image on the screen is grounded in Hank and Manny’s reality. There is a minimal use of flashbacks and it keeps the whole mindset of the film out in the wilderness and away from the rest of the world.
Dano and Radcliffe have great chemistry together. Dano makes Hank seem naturally quiet and submissive, but has to reach out of his comfort zone in many ways. And Radcliffe’s Manny is about as naturally charismatic as a corpse could be. The two make a fun and strange duo that can be The two can be wonderfully strange together one minute, hilarious the next and surprisingly intimate while remaining beautifully platonic to the end. It’s perhaps the best and weirdest bromance you could ever imagine.
I completely understand if you read this and still have no desire to see Swiss Army Man. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you are only mildly interested, or just want to see what the less cookie-cutter side of cinema is making, you must check it out.
“Hurry before you starve and die.”