Swiss Army Man is a film for the very people that would hate it—for those that would walk out of the theater and demand a refund when Daniel Radcliffe’s (Harry Potter) corpse uses flatulence to propel himself like a jet ski. It’s a weird movie, a novel thing with some good commentary on accepting ourselves wrapped up in a pretty cinematic package. If you give the absurdism a chance you’ll be rewarded with some silly, original, and surprisingly heartwarming storytelling. Swiss Army Man may not be for you, but it is a film for everyone in that its interests do not get more universally relatable.
Manny’s (the corpse) and Hank’s (the survivor) quest to get home flows out in a Socratic manner, always revolving around some truth the film is trying to expose. The film is often lovingly called the “farting corpse movie” and that type of reductionism while accurate proves its point: we as humans are perplexing repressed about the natural things common to all of us.
The bond between a dead body and a social outcast with daddy issues is only the first point of clever absurdity, strangeness used to defamiliarize attitudes towards normal bodily functions, sexuality, masturbation, death, courtship and so on. Swiss Army Man asks the important questions. Like why do we have to hide our farts from each other? Or shouldn’t masturbation be championed because it makes us happy? You may laugh, but that awkward response is exactly what the director/writers, “the Daniels”, are trying to chip away at. “The Daniels” posit that maybe the weirdest thing of all is are our insecurity fueled refusal to embrace natural and human phenomenon.
Everyone poops right? So why do we treat the act with contempt? It’s as if we’re attempting to hide any evidence of the animal self, posturing with faux elegance. Swiss Army Man says below that veneer of cultural propriety stands structurally flimsy logic based on dogmatic traditions. Fart with reckless abandon, “the Daniels” say. Although the film never delves into the ethical concerns of imposing your stench upon the nostrils of others. A conversation for Swiss Army Man 2 perhaps?