Here’s to the beautiful creepers. Here’s to the hopeless.
RATING — 5 / 5
Taking the ending from The Goonies and making it even more profound is an accomplishment. At the finale of the children’s adventure classic, a journey of mystery and self discovery through genuine dangers, the kids have a difficult time explaining to the adults what they had been through. Out of the corner of a reporter’s eye, a large pirate ship is spotted, sailing off into the sea. This is cause for pausing reflection for our heroes and for rejuvenating childhood imagination for the grown ups. Everyone smiles in shock and awe, witnessing the beauty in the unbelievable.
Swiss Army Man does this ten fold. With a farting corpse.
To walk into this movie knowing only the basic premise — a man on an uncharted island discovers a dead body with magical powers — is probably the way to go. Knowing everything, and you could be spoiled. Knowing nothing, and you might walk out. With such a premise, walk outs are sure to be expected, but after my viewing, I was left wondering why that is. Seriously. Discounting the body humor and horror, Swiss Army Man should be something universally accepted. Its insight into the human condition, the terminal loneliness we all feel and the difficulty of truly opening up to others, all make for probably the best film of the year.
The filmmaking team of Daniels bring their Adult Swim background to a dramedy populated mostly by two actors, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Dano is the lost, stranded runaway, surviving with a new zest for life thanks to the discovery of Radcliffe’s well dressed, pale and gifted corpse. “Gifted” is in quotations, but meant seriously. His bonkers powers of propulsion farting, clean water vomiting and erection navigating come in handy frequently and rather deeply. Through this stiff, Dano’s character Hank reconciles and grasps concepts of unrequited love, regret, shyness, depression and fear. Problems that, I believe, we all have dealt with.
Filled with slapstick and toilet bound laughs, the movie is gloriously committed to its vision and expression, anchored by the relatable performance of Dano, the mighty body language and innocent bravery of Radcliffe and the absolutely creative and humbling score. It’s a musical of hums and whistles, of childhood songs sung with sadness and, eventually, defiance and triumph. Honestly, the Jurassic Park themes definition has changed for me thanks to this movie, from looming grandeur to soft remembrance and optimism for a tomorrow better than today.
Now, there is much about Swiss Army Man that I refuse to give away or touch on. Theories abound online as to the exact nature of the story and characters, ranging from millennial mental illness to creepy stalkerisms. I leave it to you to interpret the film as you wish. However, do consider the ending to The Goonies. Not so much what happened specifically, but what was being felt as it was happening. Put yourself in the shoes of the adults looking on, as the pirate ship went towards the horizon. As the kids gazed away. They understood something in that scene. Something great.