The Movie: 7/10
Every once in a while it’s good to watch a movie that doesn’t follow that formula thing that our precious Hollywood loves so much. Then again, sometimes you watch a movie that’s trying desperately not to be formulaic and yet….oops there it is! Swiss Army Man has enough bells and whistles and a dead man who farts his way across the ocean, to give the appearance of being outside that movie box, but when you scrape off the surface stuff, it’s pretty much like other similar stories. Don’t be misguided by what may sound like a negative review, I enjoyed the movie. I laughed, I even cried a bit. It has some good dialogue and observational human stuff that I always enjoy, and yet it has an overriding vibe that stays with that feels more blah than good.
A lonely broken guy lives somewhat in his head and possibly on a deserted island. He finds a way to cope which happens to be finding a dead guy on the beach. Dead Harry Potter, or Daniel Radcliffe to be exact, does a fine job from what I can tell. It can’t be easy to just be at the mercy of his best relaxed state, not to mention gross and mostly wet and dirty for a whole movie shoot….oh way, he’s a friggin’ actor, that’s his job:) I got over the whole, “Wow he really does a good job of staring straight ahead.” after about 10 minutes. He is funny, don’t get me wrong. He’s a good sport to do some of the stunts and some of the positions he’s put in, but again people, he’s a performer, that’s what they do. Being the dead guy is like being the alive guy, but paler and more floppy.
Through the movie we are meant to feel sorry for our leading man played by Paul Dano because he seems so broken, helpless, afraid, lost, and fragile. He does a great job of being that guy, so no knocks for his efforts. My issue is that I don’t have much of a heart so I was not feeling sorry for him. I just felt like he was weak and needed to buck up. I guess it’s how you see characters, and you might be like Mr. Ascully and feel bad for the guy. Not me.
We are romanced by the dead guy being all things that our broken guy needs. He has wind to do stuff like start fires. He has water to give hydration, yuck. He can chop wood, be that missing romantic connection to a salvaged heart, he can talk and say what our lost soul needs to hear, and he listens to what he needs to say. Yes, the weird stuff is fun and made me smile a lot. We have a sticks and twigs bus built-in the forest where our duo re-enact some lost love opportunities that our sad sack remembers from before he was lost in the wilderness. It’s cute and kind of unsettling, and that’s stimulating for an old movie watcher like me so that’s a good thing.
My issues with the movie would be what I outlined in the beginning, the guy is just weak and the tricks to make me think it’s super indie and interesting are pretty superficial, not really deep and meaningful. I’m not chuckling at a dead guy’s farts, and I’m not sad that this guy, who is just plain creepy, is struggling with how he can or cannot function in the real world. It feels like they think they have something new and weird by having a guy and a dead guy become friends, as if no one reminded them of Weekend At Bernie’s…oh that 80’s classic.
It’s got charm of its own design and if you take it for face value, yes, it’s “quirky” and something you have not seen before. If you come away and think back on the story and the characters, it’s trying to join the ranks of Beautiful Mind, Adaptation, Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and many other films that play with emotional and mental health issues and coping with heartbreak or struggles in the real world…and they do it better, just without Bernie and farting dead guy jet ski sequences.
- Deleted Scenes (9 Minutes) – Lots of farting and masturbation outtakes. Fun for all the family.
- Swiss Army Man Behind The Scenes (17 Minutes) – A full making of doc that has some interesting insights to the filmmakers vision.
- Making Manny (3 Minutes) – The dummy used in the movie is a likeness of Daniel Radcliffe. Here we see how it was created.
- Q&A With Filmmakers (66 Minutes) – Glenn Kiser introduces a Q&A with the directors. A lot of the run time is discussion of how the movie received a grant from Dolby in its production.
- UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I like the movie, but the cover just screams Weekend at Bernies 7: Frodo Drinks the Milkshake Down (gotta be a movie lover to know that reference). I’m not interested having the poster in my house.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Filmed using the Arri and Red cameras Swiss Army Man comes to Blu-Ray with a great 1080P 2.40:1 transfer that makes the movie look a lot more expensive than it actually is. The palette has a slight green hue so I can’t comment on how natural the colors are but black levels are deep rich and close up detail is very good.
For a small movie Lionsgate chose to go with a top of the line Dolby Atmos track, this is mostly because the movie had a grant from Dolby during production. The music in the film is mostly acapella and the way it is used in the surround mix is very interesting. LFE is mostly used during a storm sequence and dialog is central and clear like it should be.
Overall Score 7/10