Thursday, July 21, 2016

He farts, therefore he is

This is what the culture has brought us in the summer of 2016. For what we have before us, ladies and gentlemen, is none other than the movie, Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). It stars two bankable young actors, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, the latter who, despite his great acting, may end up being unfortunately typecast for life by this film. (His Harry Potter fans might shriek in horror.) For this movie, stand back, is nothing other than one prolonged fart joke. Not just farts but scatological overall – a preoccupation with any waste product that comes out of the rear end. Here’s the plot. A man, Hank (Dano) washes up on an island and is about to commit suicide. He spots a corpse, Manny (Radcliffe), also washed up. He thinks it’s alive and eventually Manny does seem to come to life. But mostly what Manny does is fart. Because, don’t you know, the last thing a person does when they die is fart or poop? Manny’s continuing flatulence seems to indicate there’s still a spark of life in him. Manny also has a very flexible body. It bends and twists like a “multi-purpose tool guy,” Hank says. And it’s useful. The constant flatulence gives the corpse energy. Hank boards it and, propelled by farting, rides it back to the continental USA. Beached on the west coast the two men try to find civilization. Manny increasingly comes to life - his first words: “I’m not a sack of shit.” Hank, as if to a small child, has to teach him what life is all about. The film starts to get slightly philosophical and of course that’s the point. Hank explains to Manny everyday things like garbage, the Internet, women, love. Hank professes profound friendship and says it would be nice if, eventually, their shit flowed together. Captured by a bear Manny lights his fart on fire to scare the beast away. Otherwise the two wander in the woods creating a castaway alternate reality. They build rudimentary buildings and even have a car just like that in The Flintstones. But what they’re really questing after is the woman on Hank’s phone’s wallpaper, Sarah (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), whom Manny has deeply fallen in love with. Alas, they find her, a suburban housewife. The paramedics arrive and Hank is interviewed for the local news. Manny is zipped into a body bag. Hank won’t have it and the two escape back to the sea. Manny still has some life (gas) left in him. He gets back into the sea and takes off, his flatulence in high gear. The famous existential philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, in 1943, wrote his seminal book, Being and Nothingness. In 2016, we have the equivalent, Flatulence and Nothingness.

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