Film of the Day (05/18/18): Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man
Written By Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Directed By Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert

A Swiss army knife is a multi purpise took that can be used for damn near anything you can imagine; it fixes all your problems. That’s what Hank (Dano) does here, when a man washes up on the shore of the deserted island he’s about to kill himself on. The man, unfortunately, is quite dead and quite flatulent, but Hank is able to use this to his advantage in possibly the most hilariously absurd opening scene I’ve ever witnessed. The title is no accident. Hank is looking for a tool to help him survive. He needs a lot of things: a friend, a vehicle, a resource, a power tool, a rifle…he finds all of this and more in a (talking) corpse he has named Manny.

Yep. It’s Cast Away meets Weekend at Bernie’s.

I always wanted to make up one of those movie mash up synopses. I haven’t read any reviews so I swear I didn’t see that written anywhere else, in case it’s already been coined. Anyway…

Starvation is a bitch, and can make you (justifiably) crazy. Maybe even crazy enough to reenact pop culture scenes with a corpse after using his fart-powered body as a jet ski. Crazy enough to explain to said corpse why its not ok to think about your mother while masturbating.

High marks for originality here. The story is utterly wild and unforgettable, with flashes of very nice photography, unique montages and two strong performances. Dano is wonderful as a man on the edge of sanity (a ledge he probably took a running leap off of before the opening credits rolled) and Radcliffe does very an impressive job for a role that is probably a hundred times more nuanced and difficult on the set than it could hope to read on the page. It is undeniably fun to watch Hank, a man who opens the film defeated and in the process of throwing in the towel, teach Manny about life. In many ways, he’s just as dead as his new friend but the union forces him to confront himself.

I can say with full confidence that I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s a quick watch and a very interesting look at mental illness, loneliness and escape by any means necessary.

Currently available on Amazon Prime.

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