It cannot be said that this film is unoriginal, because wow oh wow is it something odd. The humour and story that goes with it is wacky and tries at some resemblance of meaning/heart which I feel is underwhelming, but it’s certainly different and carried well by the actors.
Cast-away Hank (Paul Dano) is about to end his life when he sees a man washed up on the shore. It turns out to be a corpse emitting gases that eventually helps the desperate Hank to escape to a wooded mainland. The dead body is Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) who becomes disarmingly alive and then helps Hank journey back home.
Daniels aka Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert direct this film with a great eye on making the world the characters are in seem very treacherous. The movie has a fantastic look and the sharp cuts of close ups for quick details or the slower serene moments to build on the creation of Sarah work well towards the friendship between Manny and Hank.
Both the Daniels also scripted this barmy adventure of self-discovery, friendship and stalking. The writing is great in places, the comedy of the idea alone bringing some laughs as you witness the floppy Manny being used like a multi-purpose tool but it’s the reliance on the corpse as a narrative aide that is a downfall too. I think that fart jokes are one of the lowest forms of comedy and sadly this film comes back too flatulence much too often, it also tries carving an arc of sentiment into the plot which kind of works but also doesn’t by the time the ending arrives.
I loved parts though, the visuals of Hank crafting people, vehicles or a cinema out of wood and rubbish left in the forests, I cracked up in the montage of Hank using Manny to further his trek to civilisation, the chopping, the mouth propelling and the shooting of critters was sublime. As Mary Elizabeth Winstead comes into the fold there’s a neat air of intrigue as you wonder where the film is going to go but sadly the end is underwhelming and for a run-time of 97 minutes, this movie feels very long.
Paul Dano is an actor I love watching and that’s no exception here. He plays the bewildered loner well and his wide eyed joy at discovering the saviour of Manny is well pitched. Dano acts like a man broken and lost from modern life for years which works. Daniel Radcliffe pulls in one of his finer and unarguably strangest performances as the dead eyed hardly moving talking corpse befriending Hank. Radcliffe’s facial expressions are brilliant and together they help the film a lot by being so in sync.
Saying this movie is out there is a huge understatement but originality beats remakes and sequels. It may grow tired by the closing credits and strive too hard to be one of those ‘art-house’ features to its discredit but there’s entertaining moments and it’s happily unpredictable.