Review: Swiss Army Man, C+
Rated R, 95 minutes
If you reimagined "Cast Away" as a dark comedy with the volleyball named Wilson as a flatulent corpse, you have the wholly original, offbeat new comedy "Swiss Army Man," which tends to wear its weirdness as a badge of honor, though that's not always a good thing. Being stranded on a deserted island leaves young Hank (Paul Dano) bored, lonely and without hope. As a rope hangs around his neck, Hank prepares to end it all, until he suddenly spots a man (Daniel Radcliffe) laying by the shore he eventually names Manny. Unfortunately, he is dead and quite flatulent and using the gassy body to his advantage, Hank miraculously makes it back to the mainland. However, he now finds himself lost in the wilderness, and dragging the talking corpse named Manny along for the adventure. Co-directed and written by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert in their feature debut that has rightfully earned the name as that "farting corpse movie," "Swiss Army Man" is an unconventional, unique but uneven look at friendship and love, told through the eyes of two men who are both dead in many ways but who come to life with each other's help. The inventive screenplay is good but needs additional help, and no pun intended, needs a few more of its points fleshed out, especially in the middle and last acts, not to mention the farting, which is fun at first, grows a little tiresome by the film's end. The game cast helps, with memorable, wistful turns from both Dano and Radcliffe, who seems deliberate in his letting go of Harry Potter, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as the seeming object of their affections, is also fun. Weird can be good, absurdist fun (the recent "The Lobster"), but also perplexingly bad (the recent "The Neon Demon"), and "Swiss Army Man" comes in somewhere in between, with an underdeveloped storyline and characters that seem content on being weird for weird's sake. For a first feature for Kwan and Scheinert, who often collectively go by the name "Daniels" given their identical first names, it's serviceable and has some entertaining, even touching moments, particularly in some of the unusual swiss-army knife features Manny has (squirting water or as a boat, among them), though it's no surprise that two 30-something male film directors have a fascination with a farting corpse, which seems to bring the film down a few notches. Next time, try more character development and less flatulence.