Arielrocks5’s review published on Letterboxd:
Eli Sunday gets stranded on an island with the farting corpse of Harry Potter. What follows from there is one of the funniest, surprisingly moving pieces of high concept filmmaking that only comes when we, the viewers, let it happen before us.
"Swiss Army Man" is a weird movie. From its outlandish premise of a man stranded on an island alone, using a corpse he finds as a way to save himself from near death and to find his way him, to the frankly out there sense of humor the film has about its characters and the world around them, to the upbeat and self referential soundtrack, everything about it screams bizarre, crying for attention to be noticed among the huge slew of grey blockbusters.
But underneath the fart jokes and the upbeat tone is a deeply moving character study of a man struggling to find happiness and some form of self respect for himself due to all the loneliness he's felt throughout his life.
In a lot of ways, he's sorta like the film itself; an outsider, looking to belong with a crowd of people. Most people would make fun of it and think it's simply not for them. Don't believe me? A couple in my theater walked out about twenty minutes in and never came back.
You really can't please everyone. It's a film about a weird person looking for a reason to live made by weird people and happens to be a film mostly loved by weird people. And I'm glad to call myself one of them.
The Daniels (As they call themselves) make their first major feature a truly impressive one from a technical stand point. Their use of camera work is energetic and swift, capturing beautiful shots of the almost dream like world they've created, when in actuality it wouldn't be any different from simply going out into your own backyard. That's sorta a running theme when you start to think about it.
Hank is no real different from a child lost in his own little world, talking to his imagery friend for company when no one else wants him around. There's also a lot of clever subtext left open for the viewer to ask if they're willing to dive in, such as, what was Manny before he died and ended up being here? How did Hank get to that island? Was he really there? Or was he simply lost in the woods after a small crash?
It's something I thought the movie would then reveal in the final act and I was dreading they would do as well, yet thankfully it never comes. Which was refreshing.
Moving on from subtext and direction, it's really the two leading performances that drive the film and both are wonderfully done. Paul Dano has now cemented himself as one of my favorite actors currently working. For the part of playing a lifeless corpse, Daniel Radcliffe brings a lot to what is seemingly a easy enough role of just farting and laying around.
This is also one of the few movies I can really name that can do fart jokes that can make me laugh and take on a whole other meaning as the film goes on. The film is also fulled with plenty of great comedic lines and visual gags to keep the pace up during the more emotional moments later on.
And speaking of emotional, JEZZZZZ. This film really does know how to pack a punch. The ending especially might be the most choked up I've gotten in the theater in awhile. Yeah, it is extremely sappy and, pretty freaking bizarre as the film comes to a close with it's final shot, but god damn it, you got to really respect the amount of heart these guys tried to put into their work.
In terms of issues, it's all done to really two. And sadly, they're kinda major.
The first one being, while I do admire a lot of the subtext given in a lot of areas, particularly in some of the minor flashback sequences, most of them range from really muddled to really confusing really quickly, and it brings up a lot of questions that could be given simple answers to, but are left untouched due to either lack of thought or the sake of leaving more up for the viewer to figure out.
Second would be.......well. While the film is for the most part really damn funny, some of the jokes are......pretty grating and, pretty vulgar too. So if you're not into that, you probably should give this a skip. But there are still some that feel like more thought went into them, I just wished there were more during the points that the film seems to be running out of ideas on body related humor.
Oh, one last thing to mention! The soundtrack is wonderful. A great mix of original songs, remixes and beautiful background pieces, along with everything else I mention, help elevate the film above the simple fart joke corpse movie it could have been.
I also find it sad how this managed to make better use of the "Jurassic Park" theme than "Jurassic World", so I guess that should show you how shitty that movie really was. But that's a story for another day.
2016 has been an interesting year for cinema thus far, and we've been getting a ton of films. Yet I think this might just be the year that might finally show people that original films are still around, and are waiting to be loved.
In a time of Hollywood films feeling like the same stuff put under a different coat of paint, "Swiss Army Man" blasts its way into cinemas to deliver one of the most original, moving, and funny films in recent memory. Check it out, and help support the weirdos.
"You either know 'Jurassic Park', or you don't know shit".