Movie Review: ‘SWISS ARMY MAN’ – Radcliffe, Dano are a gas in filmic oddity


Preston Barta // Features Editor

SWISS ARMY MAN | 95 min | R
Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

If you can’t get past the idea of Daniel Radcliffe playing a farting corpse — and half the audience at the film’s Sundance premiere couldn’t — this story of a man (Paul Dano) stranded on a deserted island and the dead body he befriends (Radcliffe) is not for you.

You really have to allow the ridiculousness of writing-directing team Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s premise wash over you. But thankfully — with its grand whiff of erection jokes and wonderful sense of imagination — SWISS ARMY MAN’s heart beats louder than its flatulence.

Not every choice in Radcliffe’s career has worked after the wizarding world of HARRY POTTER, such as last year’s VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN, but you have to give him credit for not playing it remotely safe. In fact, SWISS ARMY MAN may be his most daring performance yet, given that he plays a stiff who uses his most disgusting abilities to help aid Dano’s character.

Dano (LOVE & MERCY) is equally as effective, making a dynamite duo with Radcliffe. They both fully commit themselves to the story and crack many jokes that will resonate with audiences — in one scene, they hum the theme to JURASSIC PARK as a way of remembering life back home.

The whimsical visuals and deep philosophical reflection may be too much for some viewers, but those who are open to new storytelling concepts will find themselves completely lost in this alive and moving tale.

Grade: B

SWISS ARMY MAN opens today.

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About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.