No one could be more surprised than me by how much I enjoyed this movie! Even before you delve into the unusual premise of a man stranded on an island befriending a flatulent corpse (which, trust me, is weird enough), you then layer on the fact that now this corpse, Manny as Hank calls him, has special powers akin to a swiss army knife that help them to survive. I know, it sounds nuts, but I was slightly grossed out and completely captivated in equal measure.
We’re not sure where Hank is stranded or how he came to be there, but at the beginning of the film you’ll find him nearing the end of his rope, literally, as he contemplates throwing in the towel and taking his own life. But just as he’s about to, he sees a body washed ashore. One thing leads to another, and before you know it Hank is lugging Manny through the woods, having surprisingly in depth conversations on life, unrequited love, and true friendship while attempting to find a way back to civilization. Through it all, they both remain captivated by a young woman’s picture from a phone with no reception and a diminishing battery life. Their fantasies around Sarah grow more and more complex and she becomes something of a fixture between them as they imagine what they’ll say or do if ever they get to meet her in person.
The further you get into Hank’s imagination, the more you’ll question everything. Surely he isn’t actually conversing with a dead man? Where are they really and is it as deserted as initially believed? What is the real connection to Sarah, and why do they have a picture of her? As the ending barrels closer, you’ll be surprised by how comfortable you’ve gotten in the strange world they’ve created, and how jarring it is to emerge on the other side.
The acting is incredible, the score is perfect, and the visuals are stunning. And it’s a true testament to the creators’ vision that, with all of the unbelievable things happening, the part I found most hard to swallow was how long the last 10% of battery life on the iPhone lasted.
It’s no doubt the strangest “bro film” imaginable, complete with fart jokes, errant erections, a touch of stalking, and surprisingly touching revelations. Swiss Army Man steams full force ahead with its wholly original plot and manages to turn an incredibly odd premise into a whimsical, giggle inducing, visually captivating adventure that you can’t look away from and that stays with you long after the credits roll. As cliched as it sounds to say “you’ve never seen anything like it”, it really holds true for Swiss Army Man. You really haven’t seen anything like it, not even close.
All that said, I’m well aware that many may not share my opinion. But I urge you to give it a try! How you feel after watching it may just surprise you.
Title: Swiss Army Man
Directed by: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Written by: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Release Date: 7/1/2016
Running Time: 95 minutes