Swiss Army Man (2016)

(On Cable TV, January 2017) I’m the kind of viewer that should be open to weirdness in movies, but that’s not always true and Swiss Army Man clearly shows the limits of what I can tolerate. To be clear, the idea of a man using a farting corpse to escape from a desert island ranks as quirky and faintly cool. But it’s when Swiss Army Man gets deeper into “explaining life as if to a child or alien” that it steps from weird to twee and loses me along the way. By the time the ending of the film attempts to blur the lines between dream-logic and magical realism, imposes some kind of moral conclusion and crafts a magical soaring coda, I have checked out. The film, literally and figuratively spends too much time in the woods for me to care, and it’s not the frank language, candid looks at humanity or piled-upon weirdness that help the film along the way. To be fair, Paul Dano is almost perfectly cast as the protagonist, while Daniel Radcliffe has a terrific turn as a corpse gradually coming back to life while revealing prodigious capabilities. Sometimes, a film’s details don’t matter as much as the way it’s put together, and it’s that overall atmosphere that annoyed me so much about Swiss Army Man. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood for twee, or perhaps I’m just far too much of a square to tolerate the kind of questions asked by the film. All I know is that I found the film far less interesting than its hype suggested.

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