Swiss Army Man’s farting folly could be the cure for Hollywood’s ‘sequelitis’

Yes, the main premise is a farting corpse. Yes, thats completely ridiculous. But the comedy puts the mainstream industrys lack of invention to shame

Music video directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert probably didnt panic when a continuous stream of audience members bolted for the exit at the Sundance premiere of Swiss Army Man. From a pre-credits opening sequence that sees Paul Dano hop aboard Daniel Radcliffe (who just happens to be a dead farting corpse/human jet-ski) to traverse the ocean, Swiss Army Man not only welcomes derision it gleefully thrives on it.

As the Guardians Jordan Hoffman noted in his review out of the festival, Swiss Army Man only grows progressively weirder as it glides along.

After Danos lovelorn Hank happens upon Radcliffes corpse on an island following a failed suicide attempt and rides his new discovery to nearby land, Hank is soon overjoyed to learn that his companion (he names him Manny) is semi-alive like a zombie, just much friendlier and more useful. Even better: Manny can act as a human swiss army knife of sorts (get it?).

In a whimsical montage, scored to oddly sung original music by Manchester Orchestra members Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, Manny shows off his bag of tricks to an ecstatic Hank: he can store seemingly infinite amounts of water in his body, shoot projectile weapons out of his mouth to kill prey, and use his erect penis as a compass to direct them to civilization.

Its at this point that viewers will probably divide into two camps. Either you buckle up for the zany ride, or you check out, numbed by the gas and dick jokes. Watching Radcliffes bowels go completely berserk is, of course, not to everyones liking. But under all the bellowing is a visual and aural wonder thats impossible to dismiss as purely puerile.

Kwan and Scheinert, best known for helming the surreal music video to DJ Snake and Lil Jons 2014 dance hit Turn Down for What, are magicians at conjuring arresting images that both repulse and awe. A shot of Manny fart-propelling Hank high above the trees is downright dreamlike in execution.



figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Over their dead body: Daniel Radcliffe, Manny, and Paul Dano at Swiss Army Mans New York premiere. Photograph: Starpix/Rex/Shutterstock

The performances match their efforts. Dano, his childlike face masked by a gnarly beard for most of the film, commits to Hanks desperate situation with the type of no-holds-barred abandon the actor is known for. Radcliffe proves to be Danos ideal foil, remaining strictly reactive, while investing Manny with an endearing sense of curiosity.

When their relationship takes on a romantic nature, the two dont make light of the plot development they commit to it wholeheartedly. The effect is ultimately beguiling, and feels altogether foreign in todays comedy landscape, when gay undertones are usually played for laughs.

Dano and Radcliffes chemistry, coupled with Kwan and Scheinerts gonzo vision and an unpredictable story thats commendably vague, makes Swiss Army Man one of the more brazen and original comedies to come along in years. (Seth Rogens Sausage Party is soon set <a href=”” data-link-name=”in” body link” class=”u-underline”>to join those ranks, but that doesnt open until next month.)

During a summer when sequelitis seems to have taken hold of audiences, the need for Swiss Army Man in the marketplace is paramount. Its existence proves that singularly strange films can still get made. Hopefully it finds an audience.

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