Swiss Army Man

'Swiss Army Man' movie poster

Release: Friday, June 24, 2016 (limited)


Written by: Dan Kwan; Daniel Sheinert

Directed by: Dan Kwan; Daniel Sheinert

There are some movies that just simply take your breath away. Ones where you’ll remember what theater you saw it in, where you were sitting, how many people were in there with you when you experienced THIS movie. Swiss Army Man is that kind of movie. It’s not even really a movie, it’s a religious experience . . .

. . . for those who appreciate a good arthouse picture.

I say that not with the slightest bit of remorse but rather with an air of caution. There’s a caveat to enjoying what writer-directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Sheinert (collectively known as ‘Daniels,’ the duo behind DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s 2013 hit music video ‘Turn Down For What’) have conjured here. I say that because the warning label should be clearly on display. When early word pegged their debut feature as the most surreal, offbeat adventure audiences are likely to ever experience it was hardly a hoax. Here is a narrative quite literally powered by flatulence and guided by erections. Absurdity. Madness. Despair. Love. Weird, sweet, de-sexified love.

Shifting the likes of Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry several feet closer to neutral on the Scale of Quirkiness, Swiss Army Man wastes no time as it opens with the striking image of a young man, Hank (Paul Dano), preparing to hang himself on a desolate island. Perched atop a small cooler with the fraying rope running to the top of the small cliff, he’s all but ready to commit to his decision when he suddenly spots a body (Daniel Radcliffe) washed up on shore. It looks lifeless but Hank’s curiosity is piqued when he hears it farting. A lot.

Approaching the body with caution he notices, unsure if he’s hallucinating, that the gastric releases are only intensifying. He’s not hallucinating; this thing is literally sputtering to life like an old car. That’s when Hank discovers he can actually use this to his advantage, converting the bloated corpse into a kind of water vessel that will allow him to get back to the mainland. But it turns out methane-powered human jet-ski is only one of the ‘corpse”s many functions. He can also produce clean drinking water, and his seemingly jointless limbs come in handy for slicing and dicing things. He can also be used as a rocket and a grappling gun, and his erection functions as a compass, too — how fun!

Dismissing Swiss Army Man as little more than crass comedy is going to be too easy but that’s the same sword wielded by those who view the indie/arthouse crowd as nothing but hipsters. Or those who presumed everyone who went to see the Harry Potter movies were all bookworms. Despite frequent trips into puerile territory, this movie politely and perhaps all too quietly requests to be taken a little more seriously than the average Adam Sandler fudge pile. (In reality I’d compare this more to Rob Reiner’s timeless buddy-adventure Stand By Me.) Underpinning all this crudeness lies an aching despair to return to normalcy, to reconnect with what most of us would consider civilized society, to feel alive again after inexplicable bouts of being marooned delete you from existence.

The journey to get back home will be fairly easy in physical, practical terms given the endless supply of miracles “Manny” (as he apparently self-identifies) seems to provide. Even though he propelled them both back to shore with his ass, they’re still a far cry from home, and there are more complicated ideologies and dynamics to contend with as well. It doesn’t take long for Manny to question whether Hank is just using him for his own personal gain or if he actually cares about him, and for us to ponder just whether the two are fated for a really awkward fairytale ending, or something . . . darker.

Swiss Army Man is a movie in pain. Dialogue is sparse but it often delivers hard blows from which we take some time to recover. Conversation is often confronting and unnatural, yet it’s this entrenchment in brutal honesty that saves us from pretense. Primitive discussions about why people masturbate eventually find their place in the greater narrative. While conversations may start trending intellectual a little too prematurely for those who view proceedings as a more cut-and-dry buddy adventure, those conversations open up endless avenues for discussions of our own.

Hank is worried he’ll never have the confidence to make an impression on the woman he sees every day on the bus. Manny doesn’t understand why he is so pathetic, but then again, why would he? After all he’s just an undead, farting, bloated, water-logged dummy who washed up on shore, probably on accident. He once had a life too, but he can’t remember it. Presumably it too was filled with glorious tales of how he once masturbated.

As the adventure evolves we’re pulled further into a strikingly intimate world by a pair of mesmerizing performances. Dano is again in top form here but Radcliffe truly soars, creating a character for the ages. It doesn’t exactly announce itself as such, but Manny represents an achievement in acting and the Brit deserves to be considered in the discussion of best performances of the year. Never mind the fact Radcliffe had a stunt dummy doing most of the heavy lifting. The psychological and emotional components far outweigh the physical, and it’s in the quieter moments — around a campfire, up in a tree, face-down near a pile of animal feces — where we see a soul (and the occasional butt-cheek) exposed.

Dano is reliably weird, though his greatness is more expected as the actor continues defining his niche as an off-kilter, often unlikable enigma plagued by social outcastism. For his peculiar acting sensibilities Hank is, in a word, perfect. Much like this gloriously, obstinately, unabashedly strange little film. The farting corpse movie you’ll be telling your children all about years down the road.


Recommendation: An absolute must-see movie! Thematically Swiss Army Man isn’t a movie you haven’t seen before, but in execution, I feel pretty confident saying you won’t find a thing like it this or any other year. It’s simply a marvel and a joy to watch unfold, offering up one of the finest performances of the year in Daniel Radcliffe, the poor lad who just can’t ever get away from having to make some comment on his latest role’s relation to his days in Hogwarts. This oddity, however, just might do the trick. For now. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 95 mins.

Quoted: “If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know shit.” 

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits:; 

You’re Next


Release: Friday, August 23, 2013 (limited)


Men in animal masks descend upon a dinner party tucked away in a secluded mansion in the forest. When one guest manages to outlast the many vicious assaults, the identities of the assailants as well as the motives for all the bloodshed come into question.

You’re Next combines good old-fashioned gore with a surprisingly clever conceit to build a film that is more dark comedy than horror. While I’ve debated exactly what makes ‘horror films’ “horrifying” these days (blood and guts aren’t scary, that stuff’s just gross), it seems director Adam Wingard, along with writer Simon Barrett, were keen on trying to reinvent the term. They came close, but not quite. Still, the resultant film is a ton of fun and deserves more attention than it’s probably getting.

Beginning fairly inconspicuously, the family slowly starts to come together to celebrate the 35th wedding anniversary of Crispian (AJ Bowen), Drake (Joe Swanberg), Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Kelly (Margaret Laney)’s parents. Though the acting starts off on the wrong foot, the atmosphere remains relatively tense since a few members of the family — notably Drake and Crispian — don’t get along very well. As dinner conversation goes from civilized to more hostile, strange things are happening outside and in a single, brilliantly directed moment chaos erupts. From here on out, you can start to expect a body to drop about every other scene. The blood starts to flow quite freely, and things in the Davison family will never be the same again. That’s putting it mildly, too.

The family is under attack from at least three men — one in a lamb mask, another in a tiger mask and the third in a fox mask. (I actually thought one of those was a bear, but still. The masks are effectively creepy either way.) The masked murderers apply a variety of hunting skills to the task at hand, which is essentially to wipe out this entire gathering of seemingly innocent people, wielding crossbows, machetes and axes as their weapons of choice. However, as the narrative continues to unwind and the body count rises, we are provided some unexpected twists — here, ones that are used to serve great purpose rather than being thrown in to oblige a post-Saw horror audience — that shake up the entire dynamic of this particular home invasion story.

Impressively, the acting throughout You’re Next does not greatly improve. . . .yet the movie itself does, and by quite a large margin. Relying mostly on emotional reaction shots in response to the (often grisly) death of someone close to them, Wingard and company don’t need award-worthy performances from the cast to carry this story forward. The further we go, the more complicated the morality play at work becomes. Character motivations become the only thing that truly separate this from a plethora of other home-invasion type thrillers. The violence is nothing spectacularly original — though it is often accompanied here by a laugh or two, which is attributable to the brilliant writing of one Simon Barrett (who wrote segments for V/H/S 1 and 2); and the hits always come at a time when it feels. . . right. I feel a little like a psychopath saying that, but when you watch this film, tell me you do not agree.

Though the film is limited (more or less) to a single building, the drama is never less than compelling. It also should be emphasized that there is more drama than terror; more twisted, dark humor than profuse bloodletting for profuse bloodletting’s sake. Because the film borrows elements from dramas and thrillers, there is an unusual gleefulness about watching so much gore unfold. Adding to that the fact that hardly any of the characters are all that likable aside from the crucial role that Sharni Vinson plays as Crispian’s girl, Erin, and You’re Next suddenly becomes a wildly entertaining, fun ride. It was absolutely a pleasant surprise and it begs the question of why can’t more horror films be like this.

Then again, that could very well diminish the novelty of Wingard’s take on horror/home invasion movies. For now, I’m perfectly content with the fact that this movie has rekindled my enthusiasm for the genre, and why anyone should pay to see them.


3-5Recommendation: For fans of the genre, this is a must-see. For anyone else who’s dubious about putting themselves through an hour and a half of brutal violence, you should still go see it. Never before has violence and death seemed so. . . necessary? Maybe necessary’s not the right word; but it sure is satisfying watching it here. You’re Next successfully has made a break for a wider audience, and, much like James Wans’ incredibly successful The Conjuring, this film has proven that 2013 has made a concerted effort to add substantial entries into ‘Horror.’

Rated: R

Running Time: 94 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits:;