The Film (4/5)
When I saw the trailer for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's (combined credit as simply Daniels)Swiss Army Man in front of an Alamo Drafthouse screening of another film few months ago I wrote it off. It looked like a tacky gross out comedy that somehow managed to rope former Harry Potter actor, Daniel Radcliffe into the role of a farting corpse. As it turns out the film is indeed a gross out comedy, but it is a gross comedy with warmth and heart, and probably the best one you liable to see this year or anytime in the next half decade.
Swiss Army Man stars Paul Dano as Hank. When we meet up with Hank he is attempting to hang himself in the entrance of a cave on a desert island. From what we can tell from his beard and condition, he as been there for quite some time. Right as his hanging is about to take effect he sees a body on the beach, and hoping for some sort of companionship, he breaks the noose before it kills him. He runs over to find the body is not alive, but the corpse of Daniel Radcliffe's Manny. It says nothing, but immediately farts (yes farts). This dissuades Hank, and he again contemplates suicide, but through bizarre circumstance, he instead ends up riding Manny's body back to civilization using Manny's gaseous power to propel them through the ocean water. Unfortunately, though they might be off the island they are not out the woods (literally), and the pair spend an undisclosed amount of time wandering the woods exploring and getting to know each other. Because, yes Manny's corpse can communicate with Hank, and the two become close friends discussing life and love as they try to get back to civilization.
I watch a lot of films for both fun, and for this website, and I will go on record that this is one of the most bizarre films I have seen in 2016. I will say that the film is not so bizarre that it should drive viewers away, because for an open-minded film viewer the film has a certain emotional core that makes it easy to attach to, and the relationship between the two friends is certainly both addicting and amusing and will certainly help an audience find their way into the film. I will say that this is a film that might require repeat viewing, and this might seem odd for a film that is being sold to audiences as a gross out comedy, but audiences are being sold one thing, and only sort of getting it.
The film definitely is very funny, and laugh out loud so. But it channels elements of the surreal, and at times feels akin to the work Michael Gondry or early to mid Terry Gilliam in its approach. The performances from Dano and Radcliffe are excellent and fit what was required of the pair very well. Dano played Hank with a certain air of melancholy with also tinges of excitement. Radcliffe was understated and subtle with some sleazier asides that I found amusing. The film is solidly paced for the most part, but tends to run out of steam toward the end, that being said it is a solidly run affair that I recommend as one of the finest new and weird films of 2016.
Lionsgate presents Swiss Army Man in a solid 2:40:1 AVC encoded transfer. Everything here looks quite excellent with the lush colors of the film being reproduced nicely and naturally. Detail is excellent throughout the picture, and blacks are solid and deep.
Audio is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track in English. The track is quite solid with the dialogue and score coming through quite well, and having excellent separation of sound. I did not detect any issues with the track.
Lionsgate have put together a solid extras package together for Swiss Army Man. The Blu-ray has an audio commentary track with the directors, a Q & A, a Behind the Scenes featurette, a Making of Manny feature, deleted scenes, and a trailer.
I would say that Swiss Army Man was absolutely one of the year's biggest surprises for me. The film is an absolutely delight. The Blu-ray looks and sounds wonderful and has a decent slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.