‘Swiss Army Man’ is a strange tale of friendship

Editor’s note: this review contains mentions of suicide and body mutilation.

Stranded on an island, Hank (Paul Dano) ties a noose around his neck and prepares to cut his life short.  As he helplessly looks out into the ocean his suicide attempt is interrupted by a lifeless business-suited body that washes ashore.  Hank is intrigued by the figure and approaches it only to find a motionless and gassy corpse with glossed over eyeballs.  This body belongs to a man that Hank later nicknames Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). 

In “Swiss Army Man” Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert create a bizarre environment where Hank partakes in ludicrous acts, such as re-creating his ride on the city bus with materials from the woods to being perched on Manny’s back while riding on the waves powered by his farting torso. 

Despite Hank’s efforts, he is not able to resuscitate the corpse, though in his attempts water spews from the corpse’s mouth similar to a hose.  Manny acts as a resource to Hank throughout the remainder of his desperate struggle to survive.  As the story progresses Hank continues to drag Manny along with him.  Soon enough Manny begins to speak without recollection or memory of anything from his past.  Manny innocently bombards Hank with a multitude of personal questions from Hank’s love life to the inner workings of his own body.  These conversations that he engages in with his deceased friend act as a coping mechanism for Hank to forget about the loneliness that he is currently suffering through. 

Manny’s corpse turns into almost a multipurpose tool for Hank as a water fountain, therapist, and jet ski.  As a result of these outlandish scenes, it feels the film is overdone and the directors made the scenes with Hank and Manny’s interactions too odd and goofy. 

The movie often feels like it’s not as endearing as it tries to be.  It can often seem like it’s to wow the audiences with its emotional scenes when it’s not quite delivering. The counter-argument to this common claim made about “Swiss Army Man” is that there has never quite been a movie like it.  The way the scenes of Hank and Manny interacting are captured portrays the film to represent something out of a dream. 

“Swiss Army Man” is celebrated for its individuality as a film but criticized for its craziness.  While watching, viewers can never be completely sure where this movie is going next.  This is a film where fiction and reality battle for control as the viewer observes Hanks deteriorating mental health throughout the film.  This film strives to deliver a meaningful message during its one hour and forty minutes, though it ends up failing to even do so. 

Despite not winning any academy awards, ‘Swiss Army Man’ would be worth a watch from the correct audience.  The movie definitely has a unique plot that is sure not to engage every single audience.  This movie is not recommended for families or young viewers due to its R rating and mature scenes.  If you can stand the gore, and are somebody who enjoys studying the human mind and learning of its quirks, this would make for an interesting watch.  

Grade: B