Swiss Army Man (2016) — What, you’re not best friends with a corpse?

“If my best friend keeps his farts from me, what else is he hiding from me, and why does that thought make me feel so alone?”

Justin’s rating: Just like the day RoboCop washed up on my beach!

Justin’s review: Swiss Army Man is a very special kind of movie, the kind that you have to be talked into seeing against your better judgment. Because your better judgment might hear “movie about a guy who lugs around a farting corpse” and think, “Hm, that sounds like something I would’ve made in the third grade. Pass.” But then you hear rave review after rave review and eventually submit to the weirdness of it all.

I’m not going to give this a rave anything, but it’s certainly a one-of-a-kind movie in a field of tired retreads, and that’s worth something.

Poor Hank (Paul Dano) has been marooned on a small island for a while and is on the verge of hanging himself — that is, until a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on his beach. Hank discovers that this isn’t any old corpse, but one gifted with certain useful abilities, such as being able to propel himself across the water like a jet ski and produce fresh water.

Gradually, the corpse starts to wake up and talk, and Hank finds a newfound friend in this deceased human he calls Manny. The two of them make it to the mainland and begin a journey back to Hank’s home while Hank re-teaches Manny what it’s like to be human. Manny, in turn, helps Hank confront the reality of a crush that he’s had on a married woman named Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

Yes, this is all absolutely bizarre with a flatulent corpse in the mix, but this ridiculous and surreal situation is used to examine the themes of lying, shameful activities, and fitting into society when you’re already very strange.

Hank’s been lying to himself for a long time about how life is and should be, and this is revealed as he “teaches” Manny to be a proper human being again. The truth is that Hank feels that he doesn’t fit into the world, which is why his new best friend is something even odder than he is. It’s suggested, but not outright explained, that Manny wasn’t really marooned but rather fled from society to live in the woods while he cast about for something to stabilize his sanity. Or, at the least, help him to live with himself.

What can I say? Swiss Army Man is unapologetically odd. I don’t think I liked it — it had that air of being artsy-fartsy to impress festival circuit goers — but it’s amusing and not easily something I’ll forget.

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