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Swiss Army Man: Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Swiss Army Man (2016) movie poster Swiss Army Man

Theatrical Release: June 24, 2016 / Running Time: 95 Minutes / Rating: R

Writers/Directors: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan

Cast: Paul Dano (Hank Thompson), Daniel Radcliffe (Manny), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Sarah Johnson), Antonia Ribero (Crissie Johnson), Timothy Eulich (Preston), Richard Gross (Hank's Dad), Marika Casteel (Reporter), Andy Hull (Cameraman), Aaron Marshall (Officer #1), Shane Carruth (Coroner)

Buy Swiss Army Man from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD + Digital Instant Video

For ten years, Daniel Radcliffe played a wizard, a job that gave him fame and fortune that few have ever known. Now that the Harry Potter series has ended, Radcliffe is free to play any role he likes,
be it a young man who sprouts devil horns in Horns or a farting corpse in Swiss Army Man.

Radcliffe is a magical sidekick to Paul Dano's stranded protagonist in Swiss Army Man, the offbeat feature debut of "Daniels", a pair of unrelated writers-directors who have previously collaborated on a number of shorts, music videos, and television episodes. At first glance, Swiss appears to be another castaway survival film, but it is not. Hank Thompson (Dano) is on the verge of hanging himself when he spots a man (Radcliffe) washed up onshore. The man he later comes to know as Manny is clearly dead and silent...but for the sounds of persistent flatulence.

Still, the gaunt, bearded and suicidal Hank, evidently alone on an island in the Pacific Ocean, takes Manny's arrival as a sign. He rides the corpse as a fart-propelled jet ski and carries him on his back as he looks for rescue or at least an animal to try to eat. After a night together, Hank discovers that Manny somehow functions as a fountain, spouting out an abundance of clean, drinkable water from his mouth. Not long after, Manny starts talking to his new friend.

Hank (Paul Dano) introduces Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) to swimsuit magazines and the reactions they produce in "Swiss Army Man."

This relationship may recall that of Chuck Noland and Wilson the volleyball in Cast Away, but the conversation is two-sided, even if Manny is clearly dead and largely immobile. Hank tries to jog the memory of his new companion, a completely blank slate. He teaches him all about life, love, cheese puffs, poop, erections, masturbation, Netflix, birthday e-cards and the Jurassic Park theme. Manny's powers also help the two castaways hunt animals and escape the clutches of a bear.

A glimpse of Hank's nearly dead cell phone depicting his girlfriend Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) prompts further discovery, memory exercises, and role-playing for the two young men. Manny takes quite a liking to this Sarah as played by Hank and one suspects this strange relationship is about to get even stranger.

Swiss Army Man is certainly different. It repeatedly subverts expectations, most remarkably in a climax that completely changes our perception of everything we've seen. It seems pretty clear that Manny is alive only in Hank's hallucinating mind, but their not-quite-Weekend at Bernie's dynamic compels as both a fast friendship of societal outsiders and a crash course on life.

Hank (Paul Dano) and Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) engage in some roleplay, as the living teaches the dead about riding the bus with earbuds.

Writers-directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan display vision and confidence you don't expect from first-timers, but they do have nearly ten years of experience in shorts. Their debut film is vaguely reminiscent but not at all derivative of a Spike Jonze filming of a Charlie Kaufman screenplay. Those are exciting comparisons to make but also frightening in having to live up to that kind of promise. It is too soon to say if these Daniels have wells of creativity or will simply use this as a springboard to more lucrative commercial work.

Despite having the established Dano onscreen for nearly the film's entirety and the world famous Radcliffe by his side for most of it, Swiss Army Man does seem defiantly uncommercial, which made the decision of A24, a young studio without the most sterling of box office records,
to expand this to over 600 theaters nationwide after a strong opening in just three coastal venues curious to say the least. Swiss Army Man seems better suited to critics than general moviegoers, but the former group's enthusiasm was somewhat measured, identifying the film as an odd work that many will not be able to appreciate.

Seeing this just a week after Nicolas Winding Refn's The Neon Demon (and revisiting them in the same order and proximity on Blu-ray) made it easy for me to appreciate there was some substance to go along with the style here. From scenic sunny photography to an unusual a cappella score, Swiss Army Man is pleasing to the senses even when it is generating mixed reactions from your mind and heart. This is a film that seems both brilliant and insane in the same breath, a feature-length fart joke that also speaks to what it feels like being an awkward loner uncomfortable in adulthood. I remained conflicted and confused down to the divisive, unpredictable finale. If you value Jonze's films, even their often unsatisfying batshit final acts, then you at least ought to give Swiss Army Man a chance.

Having grossed a modest $4.2 million in domestic theaters, Swiss Army Man hit Blu-ray and DVD this week from A24 partner Lionsgate, each edition equipped with a digital copy.

Swiss Army Man: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Music-Less Version)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD + Digital ($19.98 SRP) and on Instant Video


As far as fart-driven cinema goes, Swiss Army Man looks better than most. The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation is crisp, clear and vibrant. The picture is complemented by a lively Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack, which the bonus features go into detail about. There's also an alternate Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack I address in the second paragraph below.

A live Daniel Radcliffe gets fitted with a practical water spout in "Swiss Army Man: Behind the Scenes." A dead Daniel Radcliffe dummy takes in the sights of New York City from a tour bus' upper deck in "Making Manny."


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by writers-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, production designer Jason Kisvarday and sound mixer/"fartist" Brent Kiser.
They distinguish the track with copious amounts of dry sarcasm, but they also have real things to reveal about this unusual production. The result is one of the more enjoyable commentaries I have heard in quite some time. Highlights of the discussion include how Daniel Radcliffe made his kiss with Paul Dano extra awkward, how releasing close to The BFG and The Neon Demon created some thematic commonalities among summer movies, and their idea for a sequel titled Swiss Army Man 2: Manny in Japanny.

Tinker around the Set Up menu and you'll find an alternate way to watch the film: a music-less cut, which is introduced by the directors aurally, who acknowledge that their movie is even darker and stranger and not so good with the music excised. They present this version as basically a joke, recommending a few scenes that are especially awkward in relative silence.

On the video side, where all is encoded in HD, we begin with "Swiss Army Man: Behind the Scenes" (16:42), which details the many practical effects performed on set and the extremes to which the two leads were willing to go.

"Making Manny" (3:14) looks at the construction of the Daniel Radcliffe mannequin used for practical effects and for promoting the film.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead both acts and coaches her young on-screen daughter in this deleted scene outtake. Hipsters gather to talk about farts in the Dolby Institute's Q & A session.

Five deleted scenes (9:11) are included, the most notable of which are Hank telling Manny about fetishes and Mary Elizabeth Winstead coaching a performance out of her onscreen daughter.

A long Q & A session from the Dolby Institute (1:06:45) talks at length about the use of fart sounds in the film that was a recipient of a Dolby Family Sound Fellowship.
Their remarks of the Daniels and Brent Kiser are complemented by some clips, demonstrations of sound layers, and a Skype video chat with composers Andy Hull and Robert McDowell. Some interesting topics addressed include getting permission to cover John Williams' Jurassic Park theme.

Finally, Trailers repeats the disc-opening previews for De Palma, The Lobster, Green Room, The Witch, and American Honey. Swiss Army Man's own trailer is not included.

Digging around the disc, I found an Easter egg of a 36-second short depicting an apparent jet-ski test down on a grassy hill.

The main menu loops a montage of clips and ethereal a cappella score. The disc both supports bookmarks and resumes playback.

Holding an insert with your Digital HD UltraViolet code alongside the gray disc, the eco-friendly keepcase slides into a glossy slipcover reproducing the same artwork below.

Death isn't enough to stop Hank (Paul Dano) and Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) from enjoying an epic friendship.


Equal parts insanity and brilliance, Swiss Army Man certainly makes a bigger impression on you than most movies and that's a good thing. This creative and unusual film easily stands out among modern cinema and though it is sure to divide viewers, those who appreciate it ought to really appreciate it. Though it didn't fully win me over, it did enough right to easily place it among the top fifth or so of the year's releases thus far.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray gets the job done with great picture and sound plus substantial extras. I'd recommend this to anyone with a taste for offbeat comedy and cinema.

Buy Swiss Army Man from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead: 10 Cloverfield Lane Scott Pilgrim vs. the World A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
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Reviewed October 5, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 A24, Tadmor, Astrakan Films AB, Cold Iron Pictures, Blackbird Films, Deluxe Entertainment Services Group, and Lionsgate.
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