People made a stink about the walkouts during the Sundance premiere of music-video-and-advertising geniuses the Daniels' first feature film, Swiss Army Man. It stars Daniel Radcliffe (Manny) as a farting, rotting corpse with superpowers and Paul Dano (Hank) as a sad-sack suicidal stalker trying to get home through a forest. The easiest conclusion to jump to — and the one the filmmakers did — is that those walkouts didn't like all the farting, or that they were uncomfortable with the talk of masturbation, death and pornography side by side with more emotional material. As a human who's totally comfortable with all of those things, I'm pretty confident that people actually left the theater because the story is one-note and the movie is about 75 minutes too long.
Let me be clear: The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) are some of the most inventive and inspired video-makers working today. Their tongue-in-cheek humor and bizarre, mismatched story elements have made for gorgeous musical accompaniment for artists like Battles, Tenacious D and Chromeo. Unfortunately, that mastery of the short form doesn't do many favors for their first longform venture, where the story has to justify its length.
Throughout, it's as though the Daniels aren't confident enough in their dialogue's -- or actors' -- ability to tell the story, so they jump around with insert and aside shots when they could be building character by keeping the camera on the protagonists. It's admirable that they brought their always-interesting, never-boring renegade aesthetic to this movie, but there's no need to Mountain Dew every scene. The film is beautiful, however, moody with sun-kissed lighting. Radcliffe is endearing, and Dano sells his weirdo in the woods with panache.