The premise of "Swiss Army Man" sounded interesting enough: A depressed young man befriends a corpse he find on a deserted island. But, in reality, the logline for this Sundance film should have read, "Paul Dano rides Daniel Radcliffe across the ocean like a jet ski, propelled solely by the power of Radcliffe’s farts." In essence, that is "Swiss Army Man," a wondrous fever dream of a film that mixes farts with pathos and somehow manages to make a bit of sense.
"Swiss Army Man" is currently the talk of the Sundance Film Festival. Since its premiere on Friday (Jan. 22), you can't go anywhere on Main Street without a reporter eagerly leaning over and wryly asking, "So, how about 'Swiss Army Man?'" I think they do this partly because they want to talk about Dano riding DanRad's farting corpse like a jet ski (who wouldn't, really?) but also because "Swiss Army Man" is one of those films that make filmmakers, and people who write about film, giddy.
Filmmakers Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan -- those innovative savages behind DJ Snake and Lil Jon's equally-as-absurd "Turn Down for What" music video -- created a bizarre masterpiece. A triumph of absurdity. And they coined their own genre of filmmaking in the process: "fart drama." However, at its core, "Swiss Army Man" is a tale of loneliness, as self-loathing Hank (Dano) attempts to find a real, human connection with his corpse friend Manny (Radcliffe). Of course, whenever things get too raw, a fart gag is never too far behind because, you know, this is a fart drama.
That's not to say "Swiss Army Man" works as a whole. This isn't a film that offers resolutions or answers. But the Daniels should be acknowledged for their endless innovation and blind fearlessness. Regardless of whether Sundance attendees liked it or not, it definitely left an impression:
"Swiss Army Man" isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, but it's also not trying to. It knows what it is: wonderfully subversive and absolutely bonkers. And if you can make it past the bizarro opening, there's actually something deeply moving about it.