Swiss Army Man review: A whole lot of fart and soul

Is Swiss Army Man more than just compass boners and farts?


You know about this film. You heard that people walked out of it at Sundance last year. You might have heard that Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse whose boner sometimes acts as a compass. You definitely heard about the farts.

If you find farts crude or offensive, you won’t like Swiss Army Man. But if you’re ready to open your mind to how wonderful farts can be, you could well be in for something truly special, because this film is about so much more than that.

A bearded, bedraggled Paul Dano plays our hero, Hank. When we join him at the start of the film, Hank is stranded on an island with no means of rescue or escape. Hank is about to hang himself. But while he’s dangling from a frayed rope, choking and gagging, a dead body washes up on the shore in front of him.

Suddenly, Hank decides to put his suicide on hold in order to check out the body and see what’s going on. It turns out the body is a man, still dead, named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe), who starts farting and talking. He becomes a brilliant survival companion when it transpires that Manny’s body is a human version of a Swiss Army knife.

For a film with such a ludicrous premise, Swiss Army Man can be surprisingly sweet. The relationship between Hank and Manny is decidedly unique; when he awakens as a corpse, all of Manny’s memories and understanding of social practices and most nouns have inexplicably vanishes, and so it’s up to Hank to explain them all to him from scratch.

Manny doesn’t know about fear, love, Netflix, masturbation, or that it’s usually considered rude to fart in front of other people. Through explaining each concept to Manny, who has the mind of an inquisitive child, Hank gives the viewer quite a lot to think regarding all the weird things humans do.

As well as being thoughtful and honest, Swiss Army Man is just a really good time. Once you’ve waded through the farts and boners, what’s waiting for you on the other side is a joyous, one-of-a-kind story of friendship, bravery and perseverance set to an incredible soundtrack.