“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” is the Swedish slapstick version of “Forrest Gump.” And it goes to show you that some movies are like a box of chocolates: You never know what you’re going to get.
The film jumps off to a delicious start, as Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) escapes out the window of his nursing home, rather than face the celebration of his 100th birthday. We begin to see flashbacks from his unorthodox childhood, when he developed a penchant for explosives. In present time, Allan takes a bus to a ghost town, unwittingly carrying an evil biker’s suitcase that happens to contain lots of money.
So far, so good. But both the flashbacks and the modern day action eventually get somewhat convoluted – and extremely ludicrous – to the point where it’s hard to suspend our belief, even for a little bit. We see the younger Allan influencing history as he interacts with cartoon versions of Franco, Stalin and Reagan. The elder Allan gets caught up in a circus (literally and figuratively) headlined by Sonya the elephant. It’s not very funny, and about two-thirds the way through, we’ve basically checked out.
There are some amusing bits here and there, particularly when the villains are getting their comeuppance. David Wiberg also has an inspired turn as a perpetual student, Benny, who has almost finished every academic discipline possible.
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Perhaps most of the humor just doesn’t translate (the film was a smash hit in Sweden). Whatever the case, the script needed to mine more comedy from the characters, not the clownish plot machinations.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Cast: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg. In Swedish, German, Spanish, French, Russian and English, with English subtitles
Director: Felix Herngren