Jason Coffman examines the high concept tropes within “Swiss Army Man” for Medium


In his essay on Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown, film critic Nathan Rabin coined a term that has since become a part of the cinematic lexicon when discussing a certain type of character. The “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” This is a character that has haunted many a comedy/drama, frequently defined by irrational behavior that teaches a mopey protagonist how to really live, man. Rabin has since apologized for coining the term, but it remains a useful shorthand for a trope that from all indications appears (rather alarmingly) to be all but deathless.


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