Echoes of the hilarious ineptitude of Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run and the historic kookiness of Forrest Gump turn up throughout The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, starring Sweden’s beloved comic actor Robert Gustafsson. It’s a hoot and a half.
Based on the fanciful international bestseller of the same name, the film is directed with an appropriately wry touch by Felix Herngren. It captures the quintessential baby boom optimism about aging even as it offers up an appealing template for what adventures might unfold if, or when, someone hits the century mark.
Adapted by Herngren and co-writer Hans Ingemansson, The 100-Year-Old Man begins as preparations for Allan Karlsson’s (Gustafsson) 100th birthday are in full swing at the nursing home to which he’s recently been relegated. Candles are being counted, and recounted. News photographers are showing up. Speeches are being readied. There’s so much hustle and bustle that no one notices Allan slipping out his window until the assembled crowd bursts into his room, candles blazing, to find him gone.
Escaped is more like it. Allan, it turns out, is usually both innocent and guilty of whatever mischief is happening around him. He is an honest sort who, from an early age, loved blowing things up. Indeed, it was the dynamite surprise he designed for the fox who killed his cat when Allan was 99 that landed him in the nursing home.
The ripple effect of those characteristics — honesty and a preference for problem solving with explosive devices — undergoes expansive examination as he narrates the events of his life, which come along in a series of flashbacks.
Meanwhile, Allan’s new misadventure is also unfolding.
Allan, like Forrest Gump, turned up in the lives of many world leaders when seminal events were about to happen. And in each case, he somehow bumbles into the solution for whatever question or issue needs resolving each time. Which is exactly what happens to the newly escaped Allan at 100, except the people whose lives he’s affecting are ordinary ones.
Herngren manages the constant movement between then and now with a great deal of ease. Makeup artists Eva von Bahr and Love Larson keep the joke going in aging Allan, to say nothing of the fun they have with the folks whom casting director Claes Stenmark chose for the roles of such well-known figures as Spain’s Gen. Franco (Koldo Losada), Josef Stalin (Algirdas Romualdas), Harry S. Truman (Kerry Shale) and a few lesser-knowns, like Al Einstein’s brother Herbert (David Shackleton).
There is a great deal of silliness about Allan’s journey from start to finish and no real message other than to never stop taking life as it comes. But there is also a great deal of fun in watching a 100-year-old man climb out a window and disappear.
Cast: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer, Jens Hulten.
Director: Felix Herngren.
Screenwriters: Felix Herngren, Hans Ingemansson.
A Music Box Films release. Running time: 115 minutes. In Swedish, German, Russian, Spanish and French with English subtitles. Vulgar language, violence. In Miami-Dade: Tower, O Cinema Miami Shores; in Broward: Gateway; in Palm Beach: Delray, Lake Worth.