Combustible Celluloid
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Antonia Ribero, Timothy Eulich, Richard Gross, Andy Hull, Marika Casteel, Aaron Marshall, Shane Carruth
Written by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Directed by: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
MPAA Rating: R for language and sexual material
Running Time: 97
Date: 06/24/2016

Swiss Army Man (2016)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Soul Survivor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This is the kind of bizarre, original, risk-taking independent movie that is increasingly rare to find in these times of superhero and action movie franchises. It's weird and amazing, and refreshing. Co-written and co-directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Swiss Army Man is a compendium of strange ideas, beautiful things, some disturbing thoughts, and a touching friendship that could only be found in movies.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, in total despair, when a body washes up on the beach. Desperate for companionship, Hank tries to revive it, but to no avail; it's dead. But the body's frequent gas emission gives Hank an idea, and he begins to ride it like a motorboat. It brings him to someplace new, a strange woods. Hank, along his corpse, whom he names "Manny" (Daniel Radcliffe), begins to explore, look for food, and try to find rescue. Meanwhile, Manny starts to speak and Hank decides to teach him all about life, using trash littered all around to make beautiful, illustrative objects. Trouble begins when Manny sees a photo of a girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) on Hank's phone, and becomes obsessed with finding her.

Notwithstanding his amazing performance as Brian Wilson in last year's Love & Mercy, Paul Dano has never been better as a man wrestling with his identity and humanity, finding wonderful humor in every situation. Surrounding him and Radcliffe (trying some clever tricks to pull off his character), the filmmakers decorate the screen with such astonishing images, including a bus made of sticks and junk, that we're constantly swept away. The movie's frequent discussions of bodily functions and death are grounding, but also a bit of a turn-off. That's the only quibble in an otherwise extraordinary movie.

Movies Unlimtied