So, Daniel Radcliffe has followed in fellow Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint’s footsteps and opted to play a character with extraordinary powers of the anus. But where Grint’s film, 2002’s Thunderpants, was a cheerily old-fashion kids’ movie about a heroically-gassy young boy, Radcliffe had veered into art-house territory. Well, it’s a genre renowned for being full of hot air.
Swiss Army Man stars Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, Looper) as Hank, a desert island castaway who finds a corpse on the beach. Radcliffe plays the corpse, once a man named Manny, and the characterisation of the role requires him to strain very hard indeed. Because Hank discovers that Manny’s corpse is so flatulent that it can be used as a sort of smelly jet ski, which he uses to ride away from the island. Manny’s bafflingly erect penis is also used a diving rod to safety.
The film was co-written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinart (whose surname undeniably makes you think of the word ‘shart’). The pair are known collectively as Daniel and together made the ludicrously taboo-busting video for “>DJ Snake & Lil Jon’s Turn Down For What’, which features a man who can break vases with his penis. Puerile humour, then, is nothing new to Daniel, though they claim their debut feature film is also about existentialism.
“It was an opportunity to express mortality and big ideas,” Scheinart has said, “but with fart jokes.” Do the two go hand-in-hand? Life, like flatulence, is loud and noisy and abrupt and eventually sputters out in a last, meaningless gasp, so perhaps they do. Yet they are many more questions about Daniel Radcliffe’s latest effort to blow Harry Potter away…
HAS HE THOUGHT THIS THROUGH?
Thunderpants was Rupert Grint’s first non-Potter movie, released the same year as The Chamber of Secrets, the second film from JK Rowling’s franchise. Rupert Grint has been away from our screens for a while now. His film career could not even be described as silent but deadly. It’s a little squeaker. Could this be the curse of the fart-based comedy? Can your career survive when you’re a glamorous film star who also reminds us of the unpalatable nature of the skin-bags we cart ourselves around in each day?
HAVE THE DIRECTORS INVENTED A NEW GENRE?
The Daniels have bigged up the inventiveness of Swiss Army Man, claiming: “It’s sort of like a mash-up of a survival film, a buddy comedy, a rom-com… [and] a sort-of musical.” Try not to gag on that thought and ask yourself: is this the first fart-house movie?
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HOW PLAUSIBLE IS THE CONCEPT OF SAILING THE SEAS ON THE ARSE-WIND OF A CORPSE YOU FOUND ON THE BEACH?
At one point, Hank slurps rainwater that has collected in Manny’s mouth, which – along with the diving rod and jet-ski engine contained within his pants – proves how versatile the body is. You could even call Manny a Swiss Army Man. Anyway, the point is that none of this sounds very plausible at all. And when you reach the stage where you realise not even Bear Grylls – a man who once sought shelter in the dead body of a beached seal when the camera crew filming him could have helped instead – would plumb these depths of depravity, you have crossed the line to actual madness.
AGAIN, HAS DANIEL RADCLIFFE THOUGHT THIS THROUGH?
The actor told The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s exciting, to be honest, using farts other than for comedy, like using them for plot and emotion.” Okay, Daniel, we know we called you the “Wizard Of Odd” and said you’re “Britain’s weirdest film star”, but you just described a fart as “exciting”. Are you okay? Is everything okay with you?
WILL THERE BE MORE WALK-OUTS FROM CINEMA SCREENINGS?
Oh yes, there have been walkouts. Walkouts have been reported at the Sundance Film Festival screening in Utah last week, with journalist Jeff Sneider tweeting: “Counted at least 30 walkouts within first 30 mins of the unwatchable SWISS ARMY MAN before I bailed myself at 40-minute mark. DO NOT SEE IT.” In the unlikely event the film finds widespread distribution, will it continue to cause such a stink?
COULD SWISS ARMY MAN BECOME A FUTURE CLASSIC?
The derision aimed at the movie has been loud and cheerful, but could the fullness of time sees the directors come up smelling of roses? Critics held their noses when reviewing movies Fight Club, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Shining, but all three later became cult classics. Could the same be said of Swiss Army Man? Could each blistering arse-parp be a rallying cry to a world not yet aware that it craves tales about involuntary bodily functions? Wake up and smell Dan Rad’s genius, people.