DATELINE: Dead Again
Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano
Since we complain endlessly about the lack of originality in Hollywood movies, and how we are subjected to remakes and sequels galore, how can we review Swiss Army Man? Let’s count the ways.
The film features what I can only recount as a tasteless exercise in movies. We recall Sir Ralph Richardson in a film in 1964 called Woman of Straw in which he dies and must be paraded around a cruise ship dressed up as though he were alive by his nurse Gina Lollobrigida.
Then, there was another tasteless series after Weekend at Bernie’s, in which dead Terry Kiser must be dressed and cavorted around the beach by Andrew McCarthy.
Of course, there is the seminal Trouble with Harry, the Hitchcock film about the dead body who keeps being killed by the cast.
Now we have Swiss Army Man—about Manny, a corpse who washes up on an island to become the playmate and companion of Hank. Manny is dead all right in the person of Daniel Radcliffe.
This time the animated corpse begins to converse and to protect his Gilligan-style friend. It seems to be the result of insanity and loneliness by Paul Dano’s character.
There are philosophical discussions about death and sex. The corpse, aptly limned by Radcliffe, uses his cheesy flatulence to act as a jet ski surfing the ocean—or even as a water purifier.
Tasteless and puerile certainly gives the film appeal to anyone with unrefined taste or under 16 years old. If your idea of wit is a growing homoerotic and necrophiliac relationship centering on the corpse’s erection, you may be in your element here.
As for us, old fogey types, we found the entire adventure not surreal, but exasperating.