Monday, July 11, 2016

Swiss Army Man [2016]

MPAA (R)  ChiTrib/LATimes (2 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChiTrib/LA Times (R. Abele) review (M. Zoller-Seitz) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

Swiss Army Man [2016] (co-directed and co-written by Dan Kwan and Daniel Sheinert) is a small, sneaky, summer-time indie film that despite starring two well known/popular actors -- Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe -- almost certainly _isn't_ going to be remembered for a long time to come... except that it was _strange_.  

Late 20-something / early 30-something Hank (played by Paul Dano) finds himself stranded, somehow, on some desert island, surprisingly awash with a lot of garbage.  And after utilizing said garbage to send out all sorts messages -- in bottles, on small rafts, on even quite elaborate small boats _all_ made out of said garbage (he was not only getting increasingly desperate but _also_ desperately _bored_ ;-) -- he decides to end it all.  So ... standing on a thrown away "6-to-12-pack" plastic "ice-cooler" with a noose around his neck, from which he's about to throw himself off, ... he spots, suddenly ... a body that was washed onto shore.

Having been given for the first time in _a very long time_ a smidgen of hope, he fumbles out of the noose around his neck and runs to the body, finding it to be ... dead.

Yet even though the body (played quite masterfully by former "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe ... talk about "dead pan acting" ;-) is dead (basically _becoming_ "another form of garbage")  even his / its process of decomposition proves remarkably even _miraculously_ useful to Hank: The gases produced in his/its intestinal tract -- his/its flatulence ... -- make(s) it/him ...  (yes) FART ;-) ... with _such force_ that Hank is able to ride the body LIKE A JET SKI ;-) off the island and to (some) new shore.  Other bodily functions (ones that _don't_ require much cerebral input...) prove useful to Hank as well, as his "dead body" / "friend" proves to be a veritable "Swiss Army Knife"-like gadget ... giving the film its name.

And indeed Hank proves to be something of a MacGuiver [wikip] [IMDb] of Garbage, turning all sorts of refuse into useful things.

Much (sort of) ensues ...

There is a more-or-less obvious theme of "recycling" (taken truly to the extreme ;-) / "one man's garbage is another man's treasure" that, honestly, becomes "something to ponder" by film's end.

Yet, I honestly _don't know_ ;-) if the film-makers sought to _make fun of_ "recycling" or (honestly) tried to make a very interesting / youth-oriented (re)statement of a doctrine held by most Eastern Philosophies (Buddhism in particular) that "change" (even Death / Decomposition) is Inevitable and needs to be embraced to attain Enlightenment.

Yes, this is a film that argues that even flatulence (and more ...) can be "made good."

I'll leave it then to you Dear Readers to decide if this goofy / appropriately R-rated / and arguably surprisingly quite intelligent movie is ... for you ;-)

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