Swiss Army Man, directed by two guys that just go by the name "Daniels" is one of the strangest movies of the past couple of years. Nobody knows quite what to do with it. Word of mouth has made it famous as the movie that stars a farting corpse. But it is much more than that. Let's take a look at why this movie is a very thought-provoking look at being alive (or dead).
The Bizarre Plot
A man named Hank is stranded on an island is trying to kill himself when he sees a dead body wash ashore. The dead body inspires him to stay alive when he rides it like a jet-ski, powered by the dead guy's farts. Hank names the dead guy Manny and decides to carry the corpse with him across the island looking for help. Soon, the corpse starts to talk. Then it gets really weird.
The Unique Characters
Hank and Manny are just about the only two characters in the whole movie. Paul Dano plays Hank. Hank is a shy, self-loathing man full of regrets. Daniel Radcliffe plays Manny, the farting corpse with a magical penis. Yes, I said magical penis. Together, they make one of the most interesting cinematic duos in history.
Its Dense Layers Of Meaning
The movie is so absurd and surreal that it takes awhile to start figuring out what the hell is going on. Like a Swiss Army Knife, Manny is a multi-purpose alter-ego to help Hank survive — physically and psychologically. Hank uses Manny to examine his life, his regrets and his loves. This movie is an allegory. Yes, even the farts mean something more than just farts.
The Magical Realism
This movie reminded me in certain ways of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Things happen that cannot happen in real life, but it's taken as a matter of course. For example, Hank tries to recreate a situation where Manny can talk to a girl (if he were alive). He constructs an entire little world to boost Manny's memory and confidence. Plus, Manny is also a drinking fountain and hunting weapon, among other things. This adds to the confusion:
The Way The Story Reveals Itself
Keeping the viewer confused is a deliberate tactic. It ensures that you stay as lost as Hank. You don't start to understand Hank's situation until he starts understanding it himself. There are times when you are frustrated and ready to give up on the movie, but then a flash of insight hits you, and you realize the movie isn't being weird just for the sake of being weird. By the end, your brain has melted into your subconscious and you're done.
The movie is about fear, death, self-doubt, self-loathing, loneliness, love and memory. By the end of the movie, you can also glimpse something more sinister in between the lines, but the movie doesn't lay that out for you (hint: It has something to do with the magic penis). The movie haunted me; there are things I didn't understand until a day later.
This movie is going on my Best Movies of 2016 list. Many people will agree with me but I also know people that have walked out of the movie, and there are probably just as many who will put it on their Worst Movies of 2016 list.
But whether you love this movie or hate it, I guarantee you won't forget it.
Here's the kinda NSFW trailer: