Please note that this is a re-post of my review from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe make for a unique pair in Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s “Swiss Army Man,” about a suicidal man named Hank (Dano) who’s stuck in the wilderness, but finds solace in the farting dead corpse of Manny (Radcliffe).

“Swiss Army Man” has an opening scene that is likely to be unmatched by any movie this year. Dano using Radcliffe like a jet ski as the latter’s farts blast them across the ocean like a motor boat while the credits roll is something both hysterical and strange. The entire film is fantastical and filled with surrealism that is occasionally hard to completely fall into. Either audiences will embrace it or turn away from it.

The premise alone could have quickly become a silly, pointless one, but Daniels (as the directors are officially credited) bring a bit of emotion in an otherwise bizarre film. There are laugh-worthy moments and the directors wholly embrace the fart jokes, poop gags, and flailing erections–perhaps so much so that it caused some Sundance audience members to walk out on the film.

“Swiss Army Man” is certainly distinct and stands apart from its category contenders at this year’s festival. It does infuse emotion into a silly and insanely comical situation, but the jokes can only last so long and the film’s pacing suffers after a while. The emotion, however, comes from the once suicidal Hank, who, after willing the dead Manny to life, must ironically teach him that life is worth living. There are some definite existential moments and character interactions that keep the film from going off the deep end, but the last third of the film becomes as shaky as Manny’s will to live after figuring out a few things.

Daniel Radcliffe embraces his character’s death (and later living) body with everything he’s got. He talks like he’s been underwater for long periods of time and provides most of the comedic beats of the film, while Paul Dano’s character is the one who alters his views on life, although many of the events of the film may well be happening inside his head.

“Swiss Army Man” is a unique, original, and bizarre film that will either be embraced or shunned. It’s full of weird and entertaining moments, while there are also periods of time when the film is lulled into slowly-paced monotony. The Daniels provide silly comedy, but the story execution needs to be worked on. Regardless, you won’t find a more inventive film coming out of Sundance this year.

50%
50%
Underwhelming

"Swiss Army Man" is a unique, original, and bizarre film that will either be embraced or shunned. It's full of weird and entertaining moments, while there are also periods of time when the film is lulled into slowly-paced monotony. An interesting premise that needs some work.

2.5star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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