Review: Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man is a new comedy written and directed by the duo Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert; Paul Dano stars as Hank, a stranded and lonely man who attempts to kill himself out of desperation until he sees the titular Manny (played by Daniel Radcliffe) wash up ashore. Manny is dead, but through some sci-fi/fantasy miracle, he slowly comes back to life thanks to Hank’s care and love. This movie could have easily been a missed opportunity… however, it instead became a best-case-scenario as this “farting corpse movie” may just be the most unique, funny, and endearing film I’ve seen this year. In a story about life, love, friendship and cultural expectations, Hank must teach Manny about how the world works, while they both take a journey together to find out who they both are. And man, did I love it.

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe’s chemistry is just about as great as Jack and Rose- the way they played off of each other was amazing and I genuinely believed their friendship at all times. When they were happy, so was I, and then they were not, I was worried- that’s how a movie is meant to be instead of just being “watched,” it should also be felt. After watching this, I cannot think of anybody who I would rather see play Manny, and Paul Dano also impressed me, which is saying something since I usually go into a film thinking that he will be acting crazily or over-the-top a bit, but he’s really turning it all around. I can’t, however, praise Radcliffe enough since he not only played a man learning about emotions perfectly, but he played a corpse learning about life and everything else- I don’t know if that’s been done but I know that it’ll never be done better than it has been here. Many of the other positive aspects I found in the film can be derived from the plot. The story of a suicidal and lost young man who befriends a corpse could’ve done south so quickly- especially when you introduce the plot points of the corpse flying by farting, being used as a machine gun, learning to talk, etc into the mix. That being said, those silly notions became some of the most enjoyable parts of the film because Kwan and Schreinert employed them perfectly into the film.

It was a very unique and enjoyable plot that I had a very hard time predicting where I was being taken, and it always kept moving forward without slowing down and boring me at all. The ending confused me slightly and I don’t think it lived up to the rest of the film, but it definitely didn’t hurt the other scenes as they were enjoyable on their own anyways. One of my favorite parts of the film was the amount of humor it had. Most of the humor was a result of Hank teaching Manny about what’s right and wrong, but the way that Radcliffe portrays Manny is absolute perfection. I must have laughed to the verge of tears a solid three or four times, and the mood that this film put me in can only be described as blissful. I was 100% engaged at all times and I wanted so much more of the Hank/Manny dynamic.

Another hilarious and impressive aspect of the movie was the soundtrack/score. I mean, the music is gorgeous and atmospheric, but the lyrics are outrageous and comical in every way. I would absolutely buy this score if I have the chance, and I would almost recommend one watch the film for the score alone- but there is so much more to love. The film’s social commentary should be taken to heart as it regards why people and society should be less judgmental and more accepting, and loving. Hate hurts and love saves, is a message that this film offers up without sounding preachy at all- and it teaches us to be better people as a whole. Overall, I would say that Swiss Army Man is a fantastic movie; the originality, humor and cast make Kwan and Schreinert’s film a diamond in the rough. This gem of a movie discusses life, love and friendship in a very thought-provoking and enjoyable way, and I do feel as though I profited from my experience watching the film in a very positive way. I’m going to give this film a glowing 9/10 and a green recommendation, as it should be watched, but it’s not for everybody. I definitely recommend this film, and it’s a great one to watch with friends or (older) family! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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