You tend to think of movies at the Sundance Film Festival as curious, thoughtful, uplifting, challenging, and/or beautiful masterpieces by independent filmmakers. I mean, the film festival has played home to Clerks, Garden State, Little Miss Sunshine, Memento, Reservoir Dogs, and The Usual Suspects. But people tend to forget how weird movies can (purposefully) get without big budgets and studio heads. If you let up-and-coming auteurs complete their vision their way, you’re likely not playing to mainstream appeal. And such is the case with a movie at Sundance right now called Swiss Army Man.
The premise is simple: A suicidal and stranded traveler (Paul Dano) comes upon a beached dead man (Daniel Radcliffe), who then becomes his traveling partner that farts for the entire movie with a constant boner. And they kiss. Also the corpse can work like a makeshift jet ski (that is of course powered by farts).
Variety opened its review of the film with a pretty solid summary.
Imagine “Cast Away” meets “Weekend at Bernie’s,” as directed by Michel Gondry.
Unsurprisingly, the film’s has been wholly dividing its festival audience. Billed as a kinda-drama, Swiss Army Man saw a continuous stream of people walking out of its premiere. But for every person who couldn’t stand it, there was someone entirely intrigued by its uniqueness.
The Daniels behind the movie—Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan—understand their creation whole-heartedly.
Scheinert: “Originally, it was just a fart joke that Dan made to me. “And then, just joking along the way about how the man riding a farting corpse could be a feature, I think we stumbled on something personal. It was an opportunity to express mortality and big ideas but with fart jokes so we don’t feel too self-conscious about it being a full-on drama.”
Kwan: “It was like the dumbest idea mixed with the most personal ideas and we kind of splashed them together to see what happens.”
The craziest thing is that Swiss Army Man isn’t even the weirdest movie at Sundance this year. That’s right, because there’s a film at this year’s festival called The Greasy Strangler. It’s a skin-crawling genre bend about an oiled-up serial killer wrecking hell on dimly lit L.A. streets while a turtleneck’d father-son team who run a disco-walking tour pursue some babe. Elijah Wood is one of the leads and he describes it as "the most f'ed up, funny, disturbing, gross thing I’ve ever read.”
At this point, the fact that the festival is named after founder Robert Redford’s co-starring role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid kind of seems like a long-con prank.