Well, charming and stupid - but good stupid. Dano plays Hank, a troubled loner whose dramatic attempt at running off into the wilderness backfires, leaving him hungry and painfully lonely. Just when he decides to grab some rope and end it all once and for good, a new face suddenly washes up onto the shore of his island prison. Rushing to greet him, Hank quickly discovers that his potential savior is in fact long deceased, however that doesn’t stop him from striking up an unlikely relationship with his dearly departed campmate.
Except this is no ordinary relationship. Maybe it’s the hunger hallucinations but the soggy and (very) farty corpse - Manny as Hank likes to call him - has special abilities. Abilities that can help Hank fix his fractured psyche and maybe even escape his self-imposed isolation. Manny’s Hank’s multi-purpose tool guy - helping him gather food, find water and face up to some painful memories that he’d rather stay repressed. All of these issues will have to be tackled for the pair to fart their way back to civilisation in one piece.
It’d be easy to see Swiss Army Man dividing audiences. A lot has been said about Radcliffe’s gassy corpse, perhaps labeling the film as a one-note comedy but his relationship with Dano hides much more. The pair’s dumb bromance is refreshing, with a sort of twentysomething Where The Wild Things Are, fort-building, howling-at-the-moon, feral vibe to it that’s more than a little compelling. Watching Hank and Manny re-enact a encounter with Hank’s oblivious home-town crush in a makeshift bus made of twigs and trash is definitely fun and when their relationship develops into camp fire gut-spilling territory, it’s suddenly strangely heartwarming too. We know Dano can nail drama but here he proves he’s got comedy pinned down. Meanwhile, Radcliffe may have finally left that boy wizard curse firmly in the past. Potter, who?
Daniels’ sly commitment to silliness is admirable, especially when things threaten to get a bit too real towards the film’s climax. A reality-check scene, all shot in one carefully choreographed take, showcases the Directors’ skill with a camera before pulling us right back into their daft world and reminding us that they’ve got a distinctive voice that they’re not afraid to use. Combine these factors with Andy Hull and Robert McDowell’s wild and intimate score and you’ve got yourself a treat for the ears as well as the eyes. Swiss Army Man may be a film full of farts but it’s much more than a load of hot air.