Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Swiss Army Man


Jeez, where to begin on this one … okay. Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a tiny island. He is in the process of hanging himself from pure boredom and loneliness when who should wash up on the beach but Harry Potter. Well, Daniel Radcliffe, actually. The only trouble is, he is dead. His corpse, however, is amazingly flatulent. So full of gas is he, in fact, that Hank is able to use his farts to propel the two of them through the water with the speed of a jet-ski. So right off we know we are not dealing with anything within the realm of reality as we know it.

Exactly what we are dealing with is not quite clear to me. The corpse (which Hank calls Manny; I would have gone with Evinrude) gradually regains the power of speech. The only part of him that moves is his mouth. Hank must carry him along as he searches for civilization. They have long conversations, Hank trying to get Manny to remember stuff, which Manny has totally forgotten, such as how it is rude to fart when other people are around. He builds stuff out of wood and garbage to explain how things work. These constructions are the biggest delight of the movie, really funny.

(The title, BTW, refers to the famous Swiss Army knife, that little tool of 101 uses. Turns out Manny’s corpse is useful for a lot more than just jet propulsion. Hank finds a dozen ways to employ the body. It’s a shame, though, that Manny doesn’t fold up smaller.)

It kept my interest, but just barely. By the time we got to the end it seemed to go completely off the rails, becoming muddled and even more confusing than before. What are we supposed to think of all this? I don’t know.

I can’t think of anyone I would recommend this to, and I know a whole lot of people I would warn to stay far, far away. But I will say that if you’re in the mood for something unlike anything you have ever seen before, this might interest you. It is not the weirdest movie I have ever seen (I’ve seen plenty of weird ones) but it’s up there in the top ten.

I found myself wondering why Daniel Radcliffe would be interested in a part like this. It’s not like there isn’t any acting involved. There is, surprisingly, quite a lot for him to do even though he doesn’t move. Then I realized: He doesn’t have to worry about anything. His net worth is estimated at around $120,000,000. He doesn’t need the money. He doesn’t need good reviews. He doesn’t need a hit. It doesn’t matter if he is in a flop, or even a string of flops. He is worth 120 million dollars! He has Harry Potter Fuck You Money. He can take any project that tickles his fancy. He obviously is still acting because he loves it. Bully for him, says I.