Swiss Army Man is a weird fucking movie, but also gleefully child-like and optimistic in ways we don’t really see a whole lot these days. Which is another way of saying: it’s immature. And that might not be a bad thing.
I don’t really know how I feel about this movie. It’s irritating and pleasing at exactly the same time. I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing what I was seeing throughout. There are sights and sounds here – and combinations of the two – that will either set your world on fire or push your patience to breaking point. It’s the kind of film the word “divisive” was invented for.
I admire how game the actors are and how readily they throw themselves into this material. Without them, I might not have been able to make it to the end. Paul Dano is one of our great actors and Daniel Radcliffe, while a not-so-great actor, has been doing nothing but improve with his fascinating career choices and his turn here, as a farting corpse, must be one of the trickiest roles ever thought-up and executed for film. Together they get the job done and make a potentially disastrous concept somewhat viable. This film genuinely needs them in order to be effective and my hat goes off to them.
Unsurprisingly, Swiss Army Man is a supremely visual movie and a visually inventive one. Directed by music vid/short film mavericks The Daniels (Kwan & Sheinert to be specific) the film has that wide-eyed sense of imagination and infinite possibility that charms the films of likeminded filmmakers Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. Perhaps that’s a lazy comparison, as the Daniels have their own point of view, but the path from music videos to features has now become so well-paved that it’s hard not to look back. The Daniels clearly know how to create a universe and translate bric-a-brac into barminess and some of that stuff is a real joy, some of it is just a bit much. As a slice of their imagination and personal outlook though, you can’t deny that it is individual.
At times the film feels like a short-film or music video idea stretched out to unruly length and I’m undecided on how effective the film is on a story and emotional level. It’s certainly an experience I will never forget but not one I feel the need to return to. It’s one of those movies you want to tell people about because, frankly, it’s insane that this movie even exists so I’m sure it will gain a loyal following and shelf-life as the years go by. Man, I’m so torn on this dumb farting corpse flick. Just see it. Love it. Hate it. It doesn’t matter, as long as you support it. There’s nothing else like Swiss Army Man and how often can we really say that about a movie? That’s worth something.