Score : 79 / 100
Watchable Minutes: 80 / 97. There’s a little fluff here and there but nothing that can’t be forgiven.
Trailer Comparison : The trailer is very representative of the final product. It’s nice and short, while relaying the main story beats without giving too much away. I wish more trailers were like this one.
Movie or Film : Swiss Army Man is a film. It conveys some important messages through less conventional story telling. This film has a high barrier to entry, requiring the audience to be in sync with the humor and absurdity of it all to really get it.
- Run time : 1 hr 37 minutes
- Studio : A24
- Director : Daniel Kwan
- Where to Watch : Prime Video ($)
Stranded on a deserted island, Hank finds himself staring death in the face with the realization he may never make it home. As Hank is getting ready to take his own life, a body washes up on shore and begins to convulse and behave erratically. Hank is filled with hope at the strangeness of the situation and soon discovers that the body, affectionately named Manny, possesses special tools that he can leverage for his survival. As Manny becomes more and more sentient, Hank begins his journey back home while moving closer towards understanding his true self.
A24 is the powerhouse of the indie genre. They constantly produce great movies and Swiss Army Man is a perfect example of what they’re capable of. Swiss Army Man is funny and sweet but at the same time so ridiculous that you can’t stop watching it. I’ve never seen anything like it and I hope I never do because I only have enough space in my mind for one movie like this. I think I will remember this movie until the day I die…and perhaps become a Swiss Army Man myself.
Swiss Army Man has quite the interesting story with plenty of messages about which to theorize. The story is super simple to follow when you boil it down to its essentials. If the directors had opted for a more complex plot, I think that some of the value of the message would have been lost. The main concept is just a cast away story about a man who wants to get back to his life. As the film progresses, the audience begins to realize that Hank isn’t just a cast away, he’s a runaway. He’s too afraid to take a risk and talk to the girl he’s infatuated with. He’s too immature to have difficult conversations with his dad and tell him how he feels. He’s too pressured by society to keep his weirdness under wraps so he can fit into their world. That’s where Manny comes in – as Hank teaches Manny what it means to be alive, Manny in turn teaches Hank what it means to live. This is where I decided that Swiss Army Man is a film. You see Hank grow and learn through Manny and realize that he doesn’t need all the trappings of society. Showing the audience that it’s ok to live for themselves and to be unburdened by society’s rules is a powerful message that I thoroughly enjoy. As long as you aren’t dragging dead bodies around in the woods and stalking your crush, who gives a damn what you do with your time? I certainly don’t.
I think what everyone wants to know is why Daniel Radcliffe is in this movie. I think the simple answer is that he has what I call “F— You Money” from his years as Harry Potter. In other words, he’s free to do whatever he wants and he truly acts for fun, and not as a job. He’s quoted as saying it’s his favorite movie and I can see why. He literally brought Manny to life with deadpan humor and almost childlike innocence. It’s amazing how much chemistry he had with Hank. Speaking of Hank, Paul Dano awesomely portrayed a lovable loser who’s down on his luck. He’s like the weird kid you knew from high school that you haven’t thought about in years, but when you remember them, you hope they’re doing well. It looks like everybody had fun making this film and I was able to feel that through what I saw on screen. My first “major” gripe is why on earth did Mary Elizabeth Winstead get third billing for 5 minutes of screen time? I don’t know how she was attached to this project, but I wish they saved the money on her and gave somebody else a shot in the role.
A few quick notes about what I enjoyed about this film. I liked the score a lot. It matches the weird vibes of the movie perfectly. I think any other score would have sounded out of place. The set design is also endearing to the overall vibe of the film because it looks like they were just in the woods messing around. I like when a low budget movie doesn’t feel low budget. A24 knows how to spend money.
Having said all that, there are so many odd moments in this film that make it difficult to recommend. The childlike humor and straight up absurdity are huge barriers to entry on this film. It requires a substantial amount of patience from the audience to be enjoyed. I took off a chunk of points because it can be super divisive. Unless you are willing to spend 90 minutes in a perpetual state of WTF, I can’t actively advocate for you to watch this movie. This is one instance where I highly suggest you watch the trailer and if it doesn’t scare you off, then you should watch it. My two best friends and my girlfriend are exactly the type of people that can watch this film and not just see it at face value. You have to have a bit of weirdo in you to watch a film like this. Cheers to all the freaks out there.
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