Castaway meets Lars And The Real Girl
Hank has been trapped on an island for an unknown (but evidently long) period of time and attempts to commit suicide by hanging himself. But he’s interrupted by the sight of a greying corpse washed ashore. That corpse (who Hank decides to name ‘Manny’) turns out to be a talking, conscious being with the very practical and useful powers of a swiss army knife. Can he help Hank get off the island?
Swiss Army Man is one hell of a unique cinematic experience. And that’s what we really need, that’s what we’ve been craving. With all those tediously familiar narrative arcs vetted for mass consumption being churned out of the Hollywood machine one after the other to an audience of gormless robotic faces, like crap t-shirts out of a t-shirt gun, it’s about time we got something completely different. And that’s the amazing thing about this movie, no one can predict what is going to happen when a suicidal guy trapped on an island meets a flatulent corpse with special physical powers.
Sure, it’s not for everyone. You’re either going to love this movie and find it profoundly touching, or absolutely hate it and view it as pointless and immature (I can understand both). You’ve probably guessed by now that I fall into the former category. But why?
Gross-out, slapstick-style humour is not a genre I usually find hilarious. But that’s not the only genre in this Huckleberry Finnish, Castaway-esque and Moonrise Kingdomy movie. It’s an adventure, action, musical, comedy, romance, drama and tragedy, all rolled into one great big genre pie. What’s the key concept? Defining what it means to be human: it’s OK to fart in front of someone. Why do we hide things, namely bodily functions that are perfectly normal (farting, masturbation, erections, shitting and the rest) as well as our natural feelings?
Through all the unexpected outbreaks of acapella singing, the fast and cluttered montages of survival in the wilderness, and the emotional conversations between Manny and Hank, there’s a continuous heartfelt message being delivered in the least cheesiest way possible. When Hank encounters Manny, coaxes him back to life and tries desperately to demonstrate to him how to act properly as a human, he begins to realise that if you’re truly happy with someone you will begin to feel comfortable being whoever you want to be, doing whatever you want to do, however ‘weird’ it may seem to an onlooker. The fact he was always too shy to talk to the beautiful girl on the bus becomes a pinnacle point of reference to illustrate the problems human nature faces when trying to achieve happiness.
These two guys are really something special. I’ve always loved Paul Dano and I feel like this movie sees him becoming a man (then I Googled him and realised he’s in his early thirties). I love it when he does that high pitched scream. A facial expression he does towards the end of the movie is just… well, it’s extremely moving.
As for Daniel Radcliffe; this is a man who is defying all odds as a child star turned serious, professional and versatile actor. My admiration grows for him more every year as I see him excelling in various roles. He’s just likable as hell. Particularly in Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe gives an exceptional performance. His body is floppy and uncontrollable. His facial expression is locked in a bug-eyed, straight-mouthed stare and he manages to perfectly emote everything through slightly twitching his features in jolted motions. I especially loved the scene when Hank is first trying to get Manny to talk. It felt uncomfortable and quite sad watching someone who has very limited brain functionality struggle to speak and move.
This movie is a lot of different things – it is funny, witty, weird, unflinching, heartbreaking and surprising. In one moment you’re giggling profusely at the fact someone has farted, you’re entertained by the childlike wonder of it all, and in the next moment your eyes are welling up when you see a corpse cry for the first time.
Most of all, I think this film is a warm and wonderful representation of true love. Swiss Army Man demonstrates that true love is unconditional, curious, shameless, exciting, limitless and strange. True love could not give a damn what other people think.
True love is farting wherever and whenever you want.