Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Swiss Army Man Review: We Need A Toy & Mondo Poster Now

Just to go on record right now, I suggested a real life Swiss Army Man toy and a Mondo poster, that identifies each of Daniel Radcliffe's abilities as the Swiss Army Man to the directors the Daniels, Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan at the Q & A held here in Los Angeles, last Saturday.

The much hyped Swiss Army Man is another amazing movie coming out from A24, which also recently released The Witch (thumbs down), The Lobster and The Neon Demon (both thumbs up). It is a grand stupid tale that somehow reminds you of an Amblin Entertainment movie, which the directors were going for, while still being horribly messed up, think Tim Burton before CGI. 

We're not even in July yet and we're getting big blockbusters and these limited engagement films filling up our summer. It reminded me about an article which was putting the odds down for which film will be doing the best financially this season. Captain America is ranking the highest, but smaller films like Swiss Army Man aren't even on the list. The difference is huge at how much the big studios films will be making. It made me wonder how well A24 has to do to make it financially and it is. IndieWire is reporting A24 is blowing it out of the park for indies, but maybe should have spaced out the premiere of The Neon Demon, which might be being cut into by Swiss Army Man.

Oh, and Swiss Army Man can cut, cook, shoot, be used as a flotation device in case of an emergency and of course can fart. Oh, man, can Manny fart. Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) is a corpse found by Hank (Paul Dano) as he is about to hang himself as he is on a deserted island. Thus begins the greatest new bro-mance or friendship film since Homeward Bound or E.T. both influences on the Daniels, directors of the film.

Clothes from the film
There's also a lot of farting, so much so the directors tried to get it from the cast and crew. Yes, they wanted the farts of the cast and crew captured. Daniel S. said during the Q & A, "We had an open call on set...they could go to the boom operator... but we couldn't use any of those." However, he continued, "There is one crew member who got in...Matt Hannam our editor...we went out to Mongolian hot pot and the next morning he farted these five or six incredible farts." If you see the film, listen for them when Manny meets a tiny new friend.

Farts are a cornerstone of this film, because they...I'm just going to have to give myself a second, because it's so true and so beautiful. I mean there are these great lines in this film about how farts should be shared that is both dumb and so kind in a way trying to just say everyone should just get along and it's okay to be weird. The farts also  just useful and led to me and the audience to laugh as they power Manny like a jet ski as Hank rides him through the opening of credits of this film.

Manny and Hank go on a journey of discovery, trying to survive, at least for Hank, who is still alive. Manny seems to forgotten everything in life, that is if Manny is really there. Maybe Hank has gone completely insane in the isolation of being alone and has created Manny as a facet for all his leftover wants, failures and needs. Radcliffe perfectly plays a corpse, very much like a child, who is is earnest and honest about everything he says. Dano play a wonderful source of leveling the film into being believable. As Hank, he's the every man who feels alone. Together they're a classic team that will easily be depicted in media for years to come.

Cart from the film

As Hank uses Manny to get home we go through his wheelhouse of many uses that a normal corpse shouldn't be able to do. Oh, and Hank early on understands that this whole notion of a living corpse is crazy, but what else is he going to do. He's screwed anyway, might as well make a friend out of a corpse.

The Daniels
When Manny is used, it is to make the story go forward. The directors explained they had many crazy ideas that had to be taken out because they added nothing to the story moving forward including:

-Being allergic to bees, so when going down a waterfall Hank would grab a bee out of the air, sting Manny and use Manny as a raft.

-A hole in Manny's head would let Hank use him as binoculars if he made Manny squint.

What  has to be praised is the sound design, the songs from the film flow out of Hank and Manny's mouths until they become the real soundtrack of the film. It may be do to the directors background in music videos that this blends so well.. So Hank might be humming a song and it slowly reverberates or expands in the background to be a real score as events are taking place. It's such a thoughtful way to make a soundtrack and is perfect soundtrack for this duo caper.

One of the most thoughtful uses of a already known song, John Williams' Jurassic Park theme actually plays an intricate part of the film. It means "home" or the accomplishment of finding home as best Hank can explain to Manny. This took the Daniels actually writing a letter to John Williams asking if the could use the song. His estate let them use it on the rule that film couldn't be NC-17, so the boys had a party on set when they got the news with Jurassic Park playing loud in the background.
Photos with Manny

That isn't the only connection to Spielberg films, Daniel K explained the red hoodie found by Hank in the film is a total homage to E.T..

With this journey of self-discovery and survival we see a world built by memories and by Hank made of garbage and nature. It's amazing to see what was built, settings from the past made out of what was lying around and harnesses to move a corpse .

I'll leave you wondering if Manny and Hank do make it back or if just Hank does? I will write that for a first feature film from two new directors it is a magical journey filled with farts, so dumb, but lovingly crafted, knowing it's dumb. So please see this dumb film with farts so more like it can come out.

*A bonus treat was a Manny dummy was in the audience for the entire special screening and no one noticed. At the end fans could take photos with it.

You can use Fandango to find tickets. right now it's only playing at ArcLight Holyywood, but should have wider release shortly.