Swiss Army Man (2016) by Daniels
Review by Jessica Carr
I never thought I’d be writing a review for a movie that features a farting corpse that has the ability to produce fire, drinking water, and profound conversation. Even more so, I didn’t think that I’d be so smitten with a film that featured these things. Swiss Army Man has the ability to make the viewer laugh and cry simultaneously. Underneath the absolutely ridiculous plot, lies a heartfelt message about accepting the truths of life while also learning to accept your own truths.
The fantastical adventure begins when a stranded Hank (Paul Dano) finds a dead body washed ashore the deserted island he is stuck on. Hank starts to lose hope until he realizes that his new friend, Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), may actually be able to help him survive. The two embark on an epic adventure to get back to civilization.
Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert make up the director duo “Daniels.” The pair is famous for their “Turn Down for What” video as well as a variety of other music videos. They use their extended knowledge of music to create magical music moments between Hank and Manny. In one scene, Hank is trying to get Manny to remember what life was like before he died. He starts to hum a few bars of the Jurassic Park theme song. Manny joins in and the theme song is transformed into a beautiful new a cappella creation. Every time music comes into play in this film, it is so weird and yet works perfectly. Songs featured on the soundtrack are very simple and quite literal.
The song “montage” is exactly what it sounds like—just a verbal representation of a montage of Manny and Hank bonding and surviving featured in the film. The soundtrack brings about a lighthearted feeling that pairs well with the whimsical side of this movie. The score is composed by indie rock band, Manchester Orchestra’s Robert McDowell and Andy Hull. Additional kudos to Radcliffe and Dano for singing on the soundtrack, your harmonies were like ear candy to me.
In the midst of all the flatulence and strangely directional boners, a beautiful friendship is born. Hank finally has someone else to connect with, someone to teach all the strange facets that come with being a human being living on Earth. He opens up to Manny about his inner struggles, his family problems, and his desire to fall in love. The two bond over their infatuation with a girl that is pictured on a cellphone found in Manny’s pocket. Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) isn’t really a character that we ever get to know, but she delivers a line towards the end that pretty much sums up the reaction that I presume most people will have for this movie.
Unlike Sarah, I urge everyone to keep an open mind. The movie is so much more than just a bunch of silly things put together. If you go in with no previous biases then, that’s the best way to go. The things that Manny can use his body to do comes from an incredibly imaginative place. There will be times when you will laugh at how ridiculous things get, but don’t forget there is an emotional pay-off.
I don’t want to spoil the ending of the film when things start to get surreal. However, I will say that I wouldn’t change a thing about the ending. It ended in a very satisfying way for me. Sometimes we don’t know how to communicate our emotions with other people. We are all just trying to exist in a meaningful way.
It’s really funny to me that both this film and The Neon Demon feature interaction with a dead body and I’m completely okay with one and absolutely against the other. That just goes to show that tone can completely change a movie’s perception. Now, go find a buddy to spend time with—preferably one with a beating heart.