Swiss Army Man is written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka Daniels, and stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. The movie is, to my best ability, about a man stranded on an island (Dano) who befriends a flatulent corpse (Radcliffe), and the two must work together in order to survive.
I was incredibly excited to see this film, mainly to see just how bizarre it really is, but also because I love the creativity and the passion that Daniels seemed to put into the movie. It turns out I was 100 percent right about Daniels because Swiss Army Man is a masterfully directed film. These insane geniuses put together one of the most well-written and well-directed movies of the year thus far, with each scene feeling as if there is so much going on both on the surface and much deeper, and Daniels do a superb job at balancing the wackiness and the emotion. The comedy and drama both compliment one another constantly from start to finish, and no matter how bizarre the film gets, and trust me when I say it gets bizarre, there is almost always something grounding it in some sort of reality.
Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe put their talents on display in this movie, as both do excellent work at providing a “laugh out loud” hilarious in one scene, then incredibly deep and heartfelt in the next. I think this is especially true with Dano, whose dramatic moments may even be better than his comedic ones, which is really what surprised the heck out of me. Dano’s character is such an intriguing one, as when it gets towards the end there are some secrets revealed that made me unsure what to think of his character, and I think his whole dynamic is brilliantly executed. Radcliffe, on the other hand, plays a learning, farting corpse perfectly, but he also has some truly powerful moments to add to the comedy.
While the comedy worked incredibly well, it was the drama and underlying ideas that made me fall in love with this movie for the vast majority of its runtime. There are prominent themes of loneliness, lack of family, and insanity that all work so well in telling this whacked-out story. Focusing in on the weird, I got exactly what I came to the movie for; a corpse who farts at incredible speeds that are also used as a compass and a gun to say a few examples. This film goes bananas in the best of ways, and I really have nothing but respect for Daniels and their overflowing originality. I loved this movie for nearly the whole thing, but there are a few flaws, one of which is massive.
After the opening scene, there’s a ten-minute gap where not much happens, and I found myself getting a little bored right from the start. This quickly changed and I had a blast of a time, but this gap of nothing interesting made me fear that the hype for this film was unearned. Swiss Army Man perfectly mixes crazy weird with down to earth themes, that is, up until the last five minutes of the movie. Spoilers for more on why I think this will be under my score if you have either seen this film or don’t mind seeing the end of the film ruined, but these last five minutes totally take away some of these important themes and make it a much less impactful film than if the film ended differently.
Overall, Swiss Army Man is wonderfully original, masterfully directed, and has two superb performances. The comedy mixes beautifully with the drama, and the themes at play throughout this movie proved to me that Daniels are a writing-directing duo to look out for in the future. The ending scene may have been botched, but I still had one heck of a time watching such a beautifully original idea come to life. Swiss Army Man is like no other film and it definitely deserves the praise that it receives.
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****** SPOILERS AHEAD! HIGHLIGHT TEXT BELOW TO READ*****
Okay, so specifically, what I disliked about the final moments of this film was just how much it undercut the idea that everything that occurred with the corpse was actually in Paul Dano’s head. The heavy themes of loneliness, being an outcast and becoming insane after being in isolation, plus the fact that Dano’s character is a pretty weird guy led me to think that the corpse was just part of his hallucinations in order to find something within himself. This idea would have made this movie become much more down to earth and have a much larger effect on me.
However, the final scene has Radcliffe farting into the ocean at blistering speeds in front of many civilians, proving that he indeed is a real-life farting corpse, which I do not like much at all.