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The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
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Swedish adventure comedy based on Jonas Jonasson's bestselling novel. Despite having reached his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) still has a sharp mind. Keen to avoid the party that his retirement home have organised for him, Allan climbs out of his bedroom window and begins an escapade featuring criminals and a stash of drug money. Allan, however, is not new to adventure - during his lifetime he was involved with many significant events which changed the course of history and became associated with world leaders and other notable figures along the way.
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It goes like this. While a butch matron heads towards Allan Karlsson's bedroom holding a marzipan cake loaded down with a sea of lighted candles - the aged but still sane Allan (played to perfection by Robert Gustafsson) climbs out the window of his enforced retirement home and does a Birthday bunk. A few minutes later – he's in his night robe and cork slippers entering a quiet bus station. There he meets a young but extraordinarily dim tattooed thug called Hinken (Sven Lonn) with a large garish suitcase who tells him crudely to 'mind' his luggage while he takes a leak in the tiny stationhouse loo that won't accommodate both him and his heavy load. But the slightly befuddled Allan is 100-years old and no longer has patience for such crap – he only wants to catch a bus leaving in three minutes to some tiny Swedish town (a one-way ticket he purchased only moments earlier with his pocket change). The problem is that Allan doesn't understand what's 'in' the pink suitcase and how valuable it is until he teams up with another old-timer Julius at the bus-stop end (played by the famous Swedish actor Iwar Wiklander). Whacked over the head with a crocket mallet – Julius puts the aforementioned thug Hinken (comes looking for his suitcase) in a home refrigeration unit on full and thereafter all Hell breaks loose once Hinken's minders don't hear from their twit.
Along the way we flashback to a younger Allan Karlsson who somehow manages to affect the lives of countless hapless eejets from history (loads of cleverly woven-in famous names) - while engaging in his true lifelong passion – blowing things up with dynamite (a fox who killed his cat, toilets in the back yard and bridges in a Spanish war). There are dancing Communist dictators, a talkative ironmonger whose the first to get shot, Ronald Reagan’s gardener reasoning with the 1980s howdy-doody President about 'his wall needing to come down' (thereby planting in his addled actor’s brain the famous phrase he said to Mikhail Gorbachev about the Berlin Wall), Allan advising Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project team in a non-nonsense way how to detonate the biggest bomb of them all, acquiring American President Truman’s cigarette lighter after a drunken dinner and then giving it to the son of a double-agent in the Cold War, Franco's near-death experience on a Spanish bridge, Herbert Einstein (Albert's extraordinarily dimmer brother) ending up with Allan in a Russian Gulag (displeased Stalin during a vodka/dancing session) and a British drug dealer living by his pool in tropical Bali (Alan Ford playing Pim) who wants his 50 million back or someone’s gonna be dinner – and not in a gourmet kind of way.
Meanwhile back in the now - Allan also has to deal with Benny (David Wiberg) - the weedy non-committal driver he and Julius enlist to escape the bad guys. Benny can't seem to finish any University Degree he starts let alone a cohesive sentence (he's done 30 degrees or more in his need for knowledge he can't use) - not to mention Benny's unspoken lust for the feisty but pretty Gunilla (Mia Skaringer) - a Swedish chalet owner who keeps an elephant in her barn that her psychotic ex-boyfriend stole from a circus when they weren't looking. Meanwhile hot on all their trails is the aging Swedish Chief Inspector Aronsson who can't tell his arse from his elbow and just wants an easy life (a stunning understated panic-stricken performance by Ralph Carlsson). The effect of all this lunatic goings-on is to keep the story moving along nicely while at the same time remaining endlessly entertaining...and very, very funny...
While they're speaking Swedish there's English subtitles on the bottom of the screen – except while Alan Ford speaks – his dialogue is all in English (plays Pim the British gangster – he was Bricktop in Guy Ritchie's "Snatch"). The BLU RAY picture is gorgeous throughout (bars top and bottom though) and even when the story is flashing back to so many world locations – the clarity never lets up. The facial close ups of various nutjobs have great presence and somehow add immensely to the whole madcap feel of the film.
"The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared" should have been Oscar-nominated for script and won – but you can glean just how good it is by the fact that almost all five of its worldwide nominations have been 'Audience Awards' - which speaks the volumes about this gem the so-called critics aren’t. And who would have thought the Sweeds could be this funny.
Put it high on your rental/to buy list and thoroughly enjoy...
We enjoyed the film so much, that we have just bought it on DVD - haven't watched it though yet. I will update this review if there are any problems with the DVD.
Look, there are moments which are charming and funny (man relieving himself next to an active incendiary device) however several issues failed to make the film work for me. The two main threads that made the book work were not present in the film for me - the first being Alan's life and history as an exploration of the futility of politics, war etc around the world using his explosive talents and almost laissez faire attitude to guide him and the politicians her served; secondly the urgency in Alan's present day story outlined by the conflict between the hap hazard machinations of Alan and his friends and enemies while being pursued by an investigator and press corps.
If I'm being picky, which I am, then I have to say the film failed to deliver on the above - possibly for a number of reasons, 'some' bad acting, misjudged characterisations and script, story choice - weak Inspector, thug characters, decision to remove scenes about Iran and North Korea, almost no emotional engagement between characters or sense of emotional release when the characters essentially 'escape' for a better life in Bali. Really disappointed. Sorry. Maybe needs to be remade - with better directorial decisions and editing and of course re-written.
Loved the book, wanted to love the film. Could write more but why bother?