Swiss Army Man

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Swiss Army Man Movie Poster Image
Slightly unsettling, but ultimately weird and wonderful.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates learning to be comfortable with -- and confident in -- who you really are, no matter how embarrassing or insufficient you think you might be. Celebrates teamwork and friendships in which the participants help each other.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is relatable, but he doesn't always make great choices. But he does end up overcoming adversity, and he does feel remorse for poor decisions.

Violence

The main character tries to commit suicide via hanging. A dead body is shown. Bear attack. Fall from height, broken bone, blood. Brief fighting, including punching. Vomiting. Piles of animal poop. Dead body used as a kind of weapon to shoot small animals.

Sex

Naked bottom shown more than once. Guys ogle Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Mentions of "boobs," "vaginas," "butts," etc. Manny's penis movement is used to determine direction and is shown to a little girl, without knowledge of repercussions. Frequent talk of masturbation and sex.

Language

Several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "retarded," "a--hole," "oh God," "don't be stupid." Heavy, frequent fart sounds.

Consumerism

Mentions of Netflix. Trash includes discarded packaging for Cheese Puffs, Sports Illustrated magazine, Ding Dongs, microwave popcorn, etc. An iPhone is frequently shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink vodka and get comically drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Swiss Army Man is a very unusual indie dramedy about a man (Paul Dano) stranded on a desert island who befriends a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe, in a decided departure from Harry Potter) and manages to persevere. There's a suicide attempt by hanging, a dead body, a bear attack, broken limbs, some blood, fighting, vomiting, poop, and farting (lots of farting). Characters talk frequently about sex and masturbation, and language is fairly strong in general, with multiple uses of words like "f--k," "s--t," and "retarded." In one scene, the characters get drunk on vodka, with comic repercussions. And, through it all, the movie promotes self-confidence, friendship, and teamwork, albeit in a most uncommon manner.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 year old Written byJswurd June 28, 2016

Cute and funny, but disappointing language

When I fist saw this trailer, I thought it was going to be a sweet and funny Disney like movie. It was sweet and funny, but they put lot's of bad language... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byxMovieReviewer_ June 24, 2016

Hilarious and strange but wonderful and entertaining dramedy has nudity and violence but is great.

My rating:R for disturbing violent images including bloody images, pervasive language, and some sexual material/nudity.
Teen, 17 years old Written byLori R. September 3, 2017

What's the story?

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, in total despair, when a body washes up on the beach. Desperate for companionship, Hank tries to revive him, but to no avail; he's dead. But the body's frequent gas emission gives Hank an idea, and he starts to ride it like a motorboat. It brings him to someplace new, a strange woods. Hank, along with the corpse -- whom he names "Manny" (Daniel Radcliffe) -- begins to explore, look for food, and try to find rescue. Meanwhile, Manny starts to speak, and Hank decides to teach him all about life, using trash littered everywhere to make beautiful, illustrative objects. Trouble begins when Manny sees a photo of a girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) on Hank's phone and becomes obsessed with finding her.

Is it any good?

This is the kind of bizarre, original, risk-taking independent movie that's increasingly rare to find in an era of superhero and action movie franchises. It's weird, amazing, and refreshing. Co-written and co-directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Swiss Army Man is a compendium of strange ideas, beautiful things, some disturbing thoughts, and a touching friendship that can only be found in movies about actual people.

Notwithstanding his amazing performance as Brian Wilson in last year's Love & Mercy, Paul Dano has never been better as a man wrestling with his identity and humanity, finding wonderful humor in every situation. The filmmakers decorate the screen with such astonishing images -- including a bus made of sticks and junk -- that viewers are constantly swept away. On the other hand, the movie's frequent discussions of bodily functions and death, while grounding, are a bit of a turn-off. But that's the only quibble in an otherwise extraordinary movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Swiss Army Man's premise. What's the effect of having a dead body as a main character? Is it gross? Scary? Interesting? Does it qualify as violence? Why or why not?

  • How does the movie make you feel overall? Is it a feel-good movie, a disturbing movie, or a combination of both? What made you most uncomfortable? What made you happiest?

  • How does the story demonstrate teamwork? Why is that an important character strength?

  • What's the movie's message about friendship? Can you think of other unusual movie friendships?

  • Is the main character's creativity -- making things from discarded objects -- inspirational? Have you ever made something beautiful out of something no one wanted?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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