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

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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.

Previously published on DentonRC.com.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.