HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Swiss Army Man
HTS Overall Score:81
When you review as many movies as I do, over time you really start wishing for something refreshing and NEW in the movie world. There are only so many ideas that can be done and most movies follow a certain pattern, no matter how different the actual events and names. So when a trailer like “Swiss Army Man” drops onto the scene I HAVE to go see it. I was literally floored with the bizarre idea of a farting corpse and his “Castaway” like friend that I was almost as excited for it as I was for “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter” a few years back. However, the trailer didn’t do justice to the sheer absurdity and sheer lunacy that is contained in the 95 minute film, and only can be seen to truly be understood (if you CAN understand it).
Hank (Paul Dano) has been stranded on what appears to be a desert island and much like Tom Hanks, is starting to go a bit crazy. Desperate and alone he has decided to hang himself with a self-made rope when he spies a body on the beach. Thinking it’s another human being Hank puts his plans for suicide on hold and runs over only to see that the body is actually a corpse and not a living human being. Ready to go finish the job, Hank is sidelined by the body mysteriously movie, only to see that is natural gasses being expelled after someone dies. Only this time it’s a little excessive. The farting continues on, even allowing Hank to use the body as a Jet-ski propelled by the farting corpse. Not wanting to be alone, Hank takes the corpse back to his cave he sleeps.
Using the body (dubbed Manny, and played by Daniel Radcliffe) as something he can talk to, Hank soon finds out that Manny can talk! Delighted with his new friend, Hank decides to teach the immobile Manny how to live in the world of men. Describing life to the corpse soon turns into an educational experience where the two buddies discuss sex, politics and the fine joys of falling in love with someone. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a woman on Hank’s phone that he was shyly watching every day on the bus who turns out to be the catalyst for the two guys to finally try and make it back to civilization (which actually isn’t as far as you might expect).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=81473[/img]I have to say that there are very few times that I’m left speechless after watching a movie. This time is one of them. I’ve seen in theaters and on home video, and both times I’ve viewed the film I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer lunacy of the situations shown on screen. I’m not sure whether to categorize “Swiss Army Man” as a buddy comedy, an adventure flick, a film about mental illness or depression. A brilliant satire on the way we viewer ourselves, or a disgusting and vulgar dark comedy that likes shock value as its method of delivery. Honestly I have to say that it is all of them and none of them at the same time. While I’m not sure I’d categorize this as the most brilliant absurdist comedy every known to man, I have to say that despite the craziness and feeling that you’re an acid trip, “Swiss Army Man” has some definite charms that keep me grinning.
I have to seriously wonder at the sobriety levels for co-writers/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert when they made this film. Online discussions have wondered and theorized that two were probably perpetually high on something when they made the film, and I’m not sure that I can disagree. However the sheer insanity of the premise, coupled with the amazing comradery between Radcliffe and Dano makes for an entertaining watch. In some ways the film is a sweet buddy comedy about two guys finding the truly special in each other, and at other times it starts to feel like we’re watching a satire on mental illness and the delusions we go through in order to make ourselves feel better about the horrible reality we’re living in. Dano and Radcliffe are clearly just having fun the entire time, though, and that infectious glee that they give off is what makes the craziness worth watching.
Rated R for language and sexual material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=81481[/img]The 2.40:1 scope Blu-ray of “Swiss Army Man” was shot using a mixture of the ever popular Arri Alexa and Red Epic cameras, but strangely enough the movie has a decidedly filmic look to it. That may be due to some fake grain added back into the picture, but I really didn’t get a “digital” vibe from it, so when I read that 100% digital cameras were used I was a bit surprised. The image is delightfully crisp with bright warm colors and a lush forest setting to enjoy. Black levels are wonderful, and there is only a minute amount of the famous Lionsgate banding to keep the image from being perfect. The detail on the torn up costumes for Hank and Manny is exquisite, with every piece of dirt and grimy dreadlocked hair showing up beautifully. The forest backdrop makes use of some very intricate and detailed looks at the nature and the ocean is crisply defined with deep blue waves and foamy froth whipped up onto the beach.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=81489[/img]“Swiss Army Man” was actually given a grant by Dolby to contribute to the sound design (for some strange reason), and thus has been given the blessing of a full on Dolby Atmos surround track. The track is not as wild and crazy as most of the Atmos offerings, but is instead a lightly nuanced track that still makes VERY good use of the object oriented encoding. Dialog is well replicated and anchored right in the center channel, while the surrounds and heights get plenty of use with the rushing waves or the pouring rain coming down through the treetop leaves. Music is one of the BIG pieces of the audio puzzle. So much so that I almost feel like this was more a musical than anything else. The songs flow and swell with the increasing freneticism of the film and just gives it a life all its own. Even all of the wonderful farts get a crisp and distinct sound to each and every snowflake (as disturbing as that actually is).
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Daniel Kwan, Writer/Director Daniel Scheinert, Production Designer Jason Kisvarnay, and Sound Mixer/Fartist Brent Kiser.
• Swiss Army Man: Behind the Scenes
• Making Manny
• Deleted Scenes
• Q & A with Filmmakers
“Swiss Army Man” is probably one of the most bizarre and strange movies I have seen in a VERY long time. Being in a position where I have to view so many movies that all look and feel the same, that can be a very refreshing thing. I know for a fact that the moment I saw the trailer for this one I HAD to check it out. It was so off the walls crazy in conceptual design that I wanted to see it, even if it turned out to be completely awful. Radcliffe and Dano work extremely well together (despite one playing a farting corpse), but the movie’s bizarre nature actually catches up to it as the gag (quite literally) plays on a little bit too long. I have a sort of strange affinity for the film after seeing it theatrically and on home video, but it is definitely going to be one of those love it or hate it experiences. Personally I felt it was at least worth a rental to see if the lunacy appeals to you (at LEAST watch the trailer. That alone is a piece of art).
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directed by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Written by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 Core)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 4th 2016
Buy Swiss Army Man On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: A Movie you have to experience yourself
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