The best black comedy movies always have the same two components that have developed the movie into success. First of all, a nugget of sentimentality and humanity pulsating in the bowels of the film is key. And, usually, what you find is that the whole idea circled around a joke.
At one point, a few years ago, a couple of Dans got together and bounced around surreal imagery, just for laughs. Like many filmmaking folks, the idea stuck in their noggins and eventually developed into a feature film. Complied on top of the most ludicrous premise, the pair – Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – have fashioned the most indelible, bonkers, yet beautiful brilliant love story between a man and a dead guy. Getting on board another Daniel (of the Radcliffe fame) and Paul DAN-o… I mean Dano, the surprising hit comedy of the year is a testament to the nature humour and hard slog of Kwan and Scheinert.
For those whose ears and/or eyes haven’t been graced with the plot of Swiss Army Man, then the absolutely phenomenally bat-shit insane movie goes as follows: Hank is a man suicidal on a deserted island when he comes across a dead man stranded on the same beach. Soon, Hank discovers that the corpse is full of powers that could lead to his survival.
“Magical realism is a term not really used that often, and it often gets lumped into fantasy,” said the recent Daniel Radcliffe and the poignant sentence struck a chord. There are times within Swiss Army Man where the narrative bounds on without a clear rhyme and certainly no reason: Is this real life? Or is it just the chattering of a dying man’s mind? Certainly, we’ll never really know but that adds to the earnestly bizarre quality of the film.
Despite the sheer lunacy of premise, the greatness comes from the beguiling humanity and undercurrent of sadness that babbles within the tale like the animated corpse of Manny trying to create a tune. The friendship throughout the film is unparalleled in cinema, of course, and yet manifests in a stirring and enchanting way. The abandoned Hank finds solace and development within the undead Manny who is striving to learn about the life he forgot when he snuffed it the first time. Though your conditioned mind against the weirdly wonderful would cause you to scoff, especially as flatulence is crucial here, the urge to lean into the tale causes you to uncover the most stirring relationship. On top of the friendship, the arc of understanding life and love in all its splendor and horrors is so achingly pure that it allows you to fall straight into the seat of strangeness. Which, by the way, is a stellar takeaway from the film.
If you were to as me several months into 2016 what the funniest movie of the year would be, then I’d happily bestow the title to the Merc with a Mouth. After tears of laughter streamed down my face following Swiss Army Man, I’d have to concede the crown to this undeniably great opus of humour. Though toilet humour and farting may cause the adult in use to groan and roll out eyes, the developing comedy within the indie hit is so well crafted here that you cannot help but chortle constantly.
It helps that the two leads are impressive adept to handle such a peculiar story and work well with one another to excavate the emotions alongside the jokes. As Paul Dano’s unravelling Hank begins to open up with the help of his dead buddy’s presence, Daniel Radcliffe’s gurning boy and physicality plus developing wonder slots into this survival tale with a twist. The pair have an enthralling charm and rapport that keeps you invested in the rare goings-on, happily meeting your investment with a joyous and outlandish film.
With acapella music, some impressive film references, and a genuine spirit that develops greatly throughout, Swiss Army Man is a triumph of components making it impossible for you to forget and urges you not too. Take head in a truly original film and push yourself beyond your comfort zone. After all, that’s what the directors did and, for your amusement, they have masterfully created one of the best films of the year.
Swiss Army Man is out in cinemas 30th September