Saturday, July 9, 2016

Movie Review #451: "Swiss Army Man" (2016)

Movie"Swiss Army Man"
Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
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Stuck on a deserted island, starving, and ready to take his own life, Hank (Paul Dano) finds hope in the form of a flatulating corpse he calls Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), who acts as an all-purpose survival tool for Hank.

Directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinhardt, "Swiss Army Man" is a fantasy adventure dramedy about self-discovery, friendship, and achieving the the impossible. It stars Paul Dano as Hank, a man stranded on a deserted island on the brink of death, ready to take his own life in one small step. It also stars Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Manny, a flatulating corpse with amazing, vast, and unimaginable powers. Hank begins talking to Manny, only to discover that through the vibrations of his powerful farts, he is able to narrowly escape death off of what appears to be a deserted island, riding his new found friend like a Sea Doo. From there, Hank uses Manny as an all-purpose survival tool throughout his journey in the wilderness, learning more and more of his powers the longer their journey lasts.

This is a surreal, sometimes dark comedy that has a bizarre, divisive premise. "Swiss Army Man" heavily relies on accepting this outside the box premise, banking that the payoff will be worth it in the end. There is a portion of the audience that will walk out of the theater or turn off the film after the first time Daniel Radcliffe's farting corpse makes an appearance, and we say this knowing someone in our own showing did walk out as soon Manny farted for the first time. The majority of the audience that did stick it out past the first few minutes and first few expulsions of gas seemed to laugh quite a bit and mostly consistently, more than we expected, actually. Those who opt to remain active viewers of this film will be treated to a thoughtful, weird, introspective, and endearing film about life, love, depression, and the desire for friendship, something we never thought we'd say about a movie that talks so much about boners, flatulence, and defecation.

It's not just the intricately done human story that makes this movie something special. Paul Dano gives a fantastic and heartfelt performance as Hank, a man with no friends and nothing left to lose. His acting abilities in this role have to range from desperate to hopeful, from frustrated to embarrassed. He is essentially dealing with the dead grown-man equivalent of a baby in Manny as he must teach his farting friend about life, emotions, what things mean, nuance and all. His is also outwardly projecting all of his jaded emotions onto Manny within his teachings. Dano flawlessly achieves every emotion necessary to put on a stellar and believable performance. Dano is one of the best, finest actors of his age group right now, and is often criminally under looked. We have never seen him give a bad performance. Daniel Radcliffe does an equally impressive job, and we really appreciate all of the unique roles he has taken since his days at Hogwarts. He is equally impressive here. We love the way his character goes from knowing nothing at all to becoming a true friend to someone who is clearly hurting in more ways than one, even if they can't readily admit it. Radcliffe insisted his actual person be carried around by Dano whenever it could be to make it all the more authentic. This is going to sound weird, and apparently this review is full of these weird sentences, but he does the mannerisms of a dead person well. These two actors carry the movie as it is all about their relationship, and we believe it pays off handsomely. Beyond the oddball, unique, and wholly original story, these two actors are given a chance to shine and are captivating in their roles.

This is not a movie for everyone, but for those who are weird enough to give it a chance, we bet you'll really love "Swiss Army Man." It is absolutely one of the, if not the most, unique movies of 2016, and one of our favorites, too.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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