By Patrick Schmaltz
These days, it’s pretty hard to find a film that really comes out of nowhere. So many films are predictable and boring, follow just the basic things we expect. I think the past few years we have seen some really good and original films come out. The Ots (2000-2010) were some of the worst years for film. Everyone had CGI and didn’t know how to use it, not we are getting the revolt and rebalance. Filmgoers are seeing films that are unusual and sometimes crazy. Films like Swiss Army Man gets the “WHAT THE FUCK?!” award for sure.
Story (Plot) 5-5 Swiss Army Man is just insane. Let me lay it out for you – I will be careful not to reveal anything too important – part of this movie’s charm is its ambiguity. You have been warned – small spoilers ahead. Paul Dano, who plays Hank, goes into the woods to escape society for…reasons. He is about to kill himself, because he’s starving on a small island, when Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Manny, washes up on shore as a dead body. Hank comes to find Manny is not dead, but has super powers and helps him to survive in the woods until he finds his way back to civilization. That’s the plot, but the real question is who is Manny? Why is he dead and why does he have these powers? Why did Hank go to the woods? Is this all in Hank’s Mind? It’s so silly and entertaining. Also! NOT a sequel or a remake.
Production (Directing, Editing, Music)4-5 It’s pretty amazing how fun and interesting this movie is. It’s fast and crazy, and the reality just as absurd and they know it. The film is shot beautifully, and edited really well with many fun montages of pretending together and surviving in the woods. The music is interesting also. Playing into the let’s do something different theme, all have instruments and score, but with Dano and Radcliffe singing and humming together, it makes for an eerie choir-like sound. An Example of this is, one of the best scenes is when they hum the theme to Jurassic Park while re-enacting it together. They are just in the woods so part of the music is in Dano’s head but, It works so well. You guys know how much I love movie music!
Characters (Likability, Acting) 4-5 Paul Dano is stellar again. He’s so interesting to watch in all his films. I do not think I have enjoyed Daniel Radcliffe so much since his Harry Potter days, he’s really fantastic in this. Hank is obviously insane. He’s got some things he needs to work through, but he’s so likeable and interesting you are okay with being on the crazy train with him. Manny is like a newborn baby, he doesn’t know anything so he’s having things explained to him by Hank with hilarious results. From farts, to love, to masterbation, all seem to be centered around what society deems to be normal. There are so many interesting things about our society in this movie including: technology isolation, father son dynamics, and sexual expression.
Writing (Dialogue, Cleverness)5-5 How does anyone come up with something so crazy, and how does anyone read this script and agree to do it. I would have loved to be in the room for the pitch meeting. “Guy stuck in the woods, finds dead body, which comes back to life and has super powers, which he uses to survive”. YEAH, who thinks of this crap? Well it fucking works. The movie is entertaining and fun as hell. The powers they come up with are crazy, all powered by “love”. The Interaction between Manny and Hank is where it’s at. As Hank explains the world to Manny, we find out about Hank and his perspective and what inevitably led him to running away.
Emotions (Was it; Fun, Scary, Sad, Do I care)4-5 Once you just accept what’s happening, and you need to accept it pretty quickly, you can just sit back and enjoy the fun! It’s strange and it knows it. It’s so silly and deadpan, with very little explanation. It’s filled with ambiguity, and emotional confusion. You just can’t stop watching it even though it doesn’t make sense. The world is crazy, this is for sure through a crazy person’s perspective, but you just learn to roll with it.
Overall score 22-25 I am just fascinated with this film. It’s crazy, interesting, and out of control. I might just be sick of seeing all the same shit over and over. This is not the same shit. There is some darkness to this movie for sure. The real world questions and emotions that Hank feels are rough. When you walk out of the movie you can’t help but think about it. Ask questions and try and make sense of what you just saw. This film is art and like any good art, it’s in the eye of the viewer.
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