A film about a centenarian who’s not ready to sit still is at the Kentucky Theatre
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, is a riotous Swedish export that makes recent U.S. efforts look all the more paltry, according to a movie review by Edwin Arnaudin who writes about entertainment for Asheville Scene .
The movie is currently playing at Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre.
Based on the bestselling novel by Jonas Jonasson, Felix Herngren’s film follows titular centenarian Allan Karlsson, a simple (but not simpleminded) man who just likes to blow up things.
Played by 50-year-old Swedish actor Robert Gustafsson, Allan fulfills the portal-escaping prophecy on his three-digit birthday, leaving his nursing home for a grand adventure, the likes of which he’s seen plenty of in his time on Earth.
As Allan reflects on these doings — always in English, counter to the subtitled Swedish dialog — his numerous stumbles upon major moments in history resemble that of Forrest Gump, except with an intelligent fellow doing the stumbling.
Blessed with more abilities than running and following orders, Allan’s innocence and nonchalance may be interpreted as signs of idiocy, but his knowledge of explosives gives him plenty of insight to offer the world, especially in the 20th century’s testy political climate.
Also unlike the 1994 Best Picture winner, The 100-Year-Old Man … benefits from lingering with figures real (Francisco Franco, Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, Josef Stalin, Ronald Reagan and Mikael Gorbachev pop up) and fictional (e.g. Albert Einstein’s dimwit lookalike brother Herbert) for longer than a mere recognition cameo.
Herngren’s decision to have these famous folks played by actors instead of inserting Gustafsson into archival footage also allows room for more layered humor, an opportunity on which the director and his cast capitalize.
That smart, playful vibe is similarly consistent in the present, as Allan comically winds up with a suitcase full of money belonging to gangsters led by Pim (Alan Ford, basically reprising his Brick Top character from Snatch).
Karmically linking up with the colorful Julius (Iwar Wiklander), eternal student Benny (David Wiberg) — who’s a few credits away from becoming practically every profession imaginable — and elephant owner Gunilla (Mia Skäringer), seemingly unrelated people wind up being connected and result in high-stakes hilarity that round out Allan’s eventful life.
Pair that steady humor with unusually sharp filmmaking, including one section’s uncanny impersonation of a spy thriller, and this mouthful of a title is easily one of the year’s funniest offerings.