If you’ve seen the trailer to Swiss Army Man, you may want to save your money and skip the movie. The film has some deliriously beautiful moments, but unfortunately, they’re given away for free in that ad – beautifully, hugely, with full score, intact in the dark. All the best moments are shown – so what are you left plunking down twenty bucks to see?
As it turns out: not much. Every single trick is in that trailer. The reminder of the film is an often straining re-hash of Castaway via Weekend At Bernie’s, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia and almost anything by Michel Gondry. It may be a call to arms for same-sex marriage, it may be a call to arms for mental health funding: it’s hard to tell, as the central metaphor of the film is very, very muddied. Outside of some brief but extremely engaging snatches of dynamic cinema (that are all in that trailer), the rest of the film is often boring, consisting of long stretches of pontificating on the nature of love, loneliness and longing, delivered by Paul Dano to a corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe. Dano’s shipwrecked; Radcliffe is a corpse who may be the key to Dano’s salvation – not just physical, but emotional. It’s not a stretch for Dano; it’s a huge stretch for Radcliffe, as it would be for any actor, playing a corpse that gets manipulated as, yes, a Swiss Army Knife.
There are about three amazing minutes in this film. The fact that they are almost entirely given away in the trailer is not only annoying, it’s perverse. Directors Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan have made some intriguing shorts and music videos; this feels like an awesome couple of those padded out to a very long 97 minutes.