Swiss Army Man Movie Review
A young, depressed man stranded on a deserted island befriends a farting corpse and uses his special powers to get him back to civilization in Swiss Army Man, and if that sounds like an awful plot for a movie, this Paul Dano/Daniel Radcliffe buddy drama-comedy probably isn’t for you. If it sounds even remotely intriguing, however, then dive in, because Swiss Army Man is original, funny, entertaining and a flatulently good time.
Dano and Radcliffe are absolutely terrific in the movie. Dano is at the top of his game--and when he’s at the top of his game, he’s as good as anyone--and Radcliffe somehow manages to make a farting corpse endearing and even layered, complex. The chemistry between them is what makes the film work.
Writing/directing team Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, of course, are the inventive minds who came up with this absolutely bonkers premise, presumably while on lots and lots and lots of drugs. Swiss Army Man shouldn’t work at all, but it does, not only thanks to the performances but the witty, sometimes hilarious script, the superb editing and an incredible soundtrack that Kwan and Scheinert weave into the very soul of their work.
Swiss Army Man is engrossing until it isn’t, which is around 15 minutes from the end of the film. While the ending is good, the story and its characters lose steam just before the finish line as the filmmakers finally have to tear Dano and Radcliffe from the grand adventure they’re having to provide some closure. Whether the ending goes on too long--just when you think it’s over, something else happens, and then something else--or that it just isn’t as interesting as the rest of the movie, the film’s final stretch is not as magical as the rest.
Despite a not-quite-as-great ending, Swiss Army Man is a uniquely entertaining and ambitious piece of filmmaking, the kind of storytelling we rarely see these days. Refreshingly original and yet oddly accessible--and certainly funny--Swiss Army Man is a must-see… as long as you hold onto the hope that a movie about a farting Harry Potter corpse with super powers has the potential to be something more.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.