Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Swiss Army Man
Swiss Army Man (2016) has one of those premises that tells you this movie is either going to be very good or very bad. There is no middle ground. The story is so bizarre that only people who truly believed in it would have had the guts to even to attempt it. Those who seek the comfort and assurance of reliable, bland formula would not have dared.
Shipwrecked Hank (Paul Dano) is about to kill himself out of loneliness and despair when he sees a washed-up corpse (Radcliffe) on the beach. Using the corpse's explosive flatulence, Hank manages to reach to another shore, closer to potential rescue. But usefulness of the corpse, whom he dubs Manny, continues. Soon, Manny begins talking, and Hank begins teaching Manny, who has no memories, about what life has to offer, the good and the bad.
Read that summary again. Can you imagine that being the foundation of a "serious" movie? Well, Swiss Army Man is a funny movie, really funny at times. It's crude, in bad taste, awkward, uncomfortable, and kind of gross but elevated to the point of comic surreal. In its own way, it's rather moving.
He also farts. A lot. To the point Hank shoves a cork up his ass, but not before he made use of this talent. The sight of Hank riding Manny's body over the water like a jet ski or through the air like a rocket is outrageous to the point of glorious. Manny also serves as a freshwater spigot when Hank is thirsty, and Hank discovers he can put objects in Manny's mouth and hit him in the stomach to create a human pistol. The montage of the two slaughtering a host of wildlife using this method is a highlight.
The ending, where the pair return to civilization, stumbles a bit. It's not bad, and what's revealed fits; it just feels too long and too slow, as if the movie doesn't want to end and is stalling. That said, I can't think of another movie in which the timing of a fart played so critical a role to the climax. The premise might put you off, but if you can stomach it, you're in for a treat.