While I do realize that the film's premise of a farting corpse being used as a multipurpose tool is silly in nature, the film is obviously trying to be deeply philosophical. While a good balance between silly humor and philosophical elements is finally achieved by about thirty minutes into the film, the first twenty minutes were extremely disappointing. It seemed like the film was going to start on a philosophical track, only to be derailed by another fart joke. Later in the film, however, the writing does become more emotionally complex, raising questions about mortality and conformity into society.
The ending of the film also makes very little sense. The more I think about this movie after watching it, I find more and more issues with the writing. A lot of the events from earlier in the film are not explained by the ending, though I will not go into any of those elements as to avoid spoilers. Regardless, there are many plot holes. Some parts of the film are really funny, but other parts, such as the fart jokes, are repeated too many times and get a bit old. The film does, however, greatly succeed in originality, as it is unlike anything that I had seen before.
The best parts of the film are related to its production, not its writing. The cinematography is excellent, sometimes advancing the metaphors of the film. The film also does some phenomenal things with its music. When the score begins, it is initially diegetic, with a cappella layers being added to create a complex background track. It truly was brilliant scoring. The performances by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are absolutely great. Radcliffe is amazing as a (sort-of) corpse, adding ambiguity to the story. If the role were played by a lower-quality actor, it easily could have removed the mysticism from the film. Dano is an extremely compelling protagonist and allows the audience to sympathize with the character, as he always does.
So overall, "Swiss Army Man" ended up being a bit disappointing to me, feeling a lot longer than it actually was. While execution is often the issue with films that have odd premises, this film is executed well, instead having an issue with the development of the plot. I am sure that this film will have its fans, but I did not love it.
Swiss Army Man
Big Tuna's Rating: C+
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Possibly.