Swiss Army Man is a film I really wanted to see on the big screen, but this desert island movie was ‘drowned out’ by other bigger films at the time, sadly, despite this one starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe.
Hank (Paul Dano – so good as the young Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy) is trapped on the island, and his only company is Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). Alas, Manny is dead. Hence, CPR won’t work – all it does is bring out his trapped wind. And HOW! One thing I didn’t realise before watching this is just how much the corpse’s flatulence plays a part, although the film also teaches us a number of things about the human body that you don’t realise can happen after we die.
In trying to find a way to carry on, in the hope that he one day returns to civilisation, Hank does gross things such as drinking the water regurgitated from Manny’s body, imbibed from its time spent in the sea; and he also builds things out of the rubbish left behind by everyday folk, so he’s basically one of the Wombles. However, when Manny appears to talk, has he really come back to life or is it all in the mind of Hank? And either way, how can a dead man get an erection??!
Hence the line: “Manny, I think your penis is guiding us home!”
Yes, it’s a bit of a silly film, but it’s also powerful in the way it draws you in before you realise.
Along the way, the idea comes about for Manny being Hank’s ‘multi-purpose tool guy’, hence the title of the movie.
And as Hank talks to the corpse, you know he’s making Manny speak about some of the things in his own life, but how much is based in reality and how much is he adding into the dialogue… or is it ALL from his life?
Overall, Swiss Army Man is a brilliantly-inventive mix of fantasy and reality, at times reminding me of the best of Michel Gondry and Wes Anderson, and turning into one hell of a mind-bender. This is certainly not something I’ve seen before. It’s very funny in places, and intriguing in its entireity. Full kudos to writer/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka Daniels), as well as the two leads who are at the top of their game.
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, and there’s no issues with the print whatsoever. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie – bringing Daniel and all the ‘fake Daniels’ to life brilliantly, and I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV, connected to a PS4.
The audio is in DTS HD MA 5.1, with plenty of action going on as Hank and Manny ‘work together’, backed up by a fantastic score from Andy Hull and Robert McDowell.
There are some neat extras on this disc:
- Deleted/Alternative Scenes (9:11): Five of them here. I think I’d put back in No.2 and 3.
The last one is actually a scene featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sarah, whose character will become clear when you watch the film, and is more a brief behind-the-scenes piece between her and the young girl who plays her onscreen daughter, and who looks about four or five. This made me wonder how you explain that she’s starring in a film where the plot revolves around a man, stranded on a desert island, who carries around the dead body of another man which has washed up upon the shore? It’d give her nightmares, surely! 😀
- Behind The Scenes (16:42): Plenty of on-set footage which shows what a blast they had making this film… and not just a blast from an anus!
- Making of Manny (3:14): Bringing a doll to life as dead man… if you see what I mean. It looks incredible, too.
- Q&A with Filmmmakers (66:45): Taking place at the Dolby Institute, it’s fantastic to see a full Q&A as an extra, rather than a truncated one which ends up on most discs.
- Audio commentary: with writer directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka Daniels), production designer Jason Kisvarday and the sound mixer and “fartist” Brent Kiser.
The main menu is features the cover but with clips in the background behind the pair, but the menu system is a bit sticky as it’s DVD-like so when you select an option, the music stops as it moves to new menu. Blu-rays can easily avoid this!
Beyond that, there are subtitles in English only, and just a bog-standard 12 chapters, while I always work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Running time: 98 minutes
Released: April 10th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Languages/Audio: Dolby Atmos, DTS HD MA 5.1
Subtitles, English SDH
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic /i Scope, ARRIRAW (2.8K), Anamorphic J-D-C Scope, Phantom RAW (4K), Redcode RAW (6K), XDCAM EX (1080p/24))
Disc Format: BD50
Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, Lauren Mann, William Olsson, Eyal Rimmon and Jonathan Wang
Screenplay: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Music: Andy Hull and Robert McDowell
Hank: Paul Dano
Manny: Daniel Radcliffe
Sarah: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Crissie: Antonia Ribero
Preston: Timothy Eulich
Hank’s Dad: Richard Gross
Reporter: Marika Casteel
Cameraman: Andy Hull
Officer #1: Aaron Marshall
Coroner: Shane Carruth
Officer #2: Jessica Harbeck (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.