The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Directed by Felix Herngren. Sweden. 2013. R. 114 minutes. Music Box Films. Digital.
Mon., July 13, 2015 thru Wed., July 15, 2015
“Although the names are absent from the credits, it’s impossible not to note the handiwork of Scandinavian scribes Forrest Forrestgumponsson and Zelig Zeligsson on the jolly, geriatric romp The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.
Adapted from a best-selling Swedish novel and directed with a slapstick verve by Felix Herngren, the movie with the title too long to type again is about one Allan Karlsson (Swedish comedy star Robert Gustafsson), an impish centenarian who recalls his fateful encounters with a pantheon of 20th-century figures: Francisco Franco, Joseph Stalin, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan, to name a few.
Intercut with the history-bending flashbacks is a present-day story in which Allan escapes his retirement home, somewhat innocently takes possession of a suitcase, and hops a bus out of town. The fact that the suitcase is full of money and that the money belongs to the head of a biker gang in debt to a British gangster means that Allan – and the friends he meets along the way – becomes the object of a desperate manhunt. A bumbling local police official is on the lookout for Allan, too.
Throw in a circus elephant, a tough cookie named Gunilla (Mia Skäringer), and the comically, chronically indecisive Benny (David Wiberg), and this peripatetic farce practically propels itself. Allan’s penchant for blowing things up supplies a narrative through-line – not to mention a few, um, explosively funny gags. If the accidental adventurer’s motto isn’t as sticky and sage as Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates” line, it does reflect a certain Nordic existential bent. “Life is what it is and does what it does,” Allan says.