Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Felix Herngren, known for his Swedish Simpsons-like television show, delivers a madcap darkish comedy in "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared." This film was a huge hit in Sweden surpassed only by the "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy.

In a kind of picaresque format Allan (Robert Gustafsson) a centurion on his birthday, decides to flee a nursing home and just start walking.

A criminal at a station, Gaddan (Jens Hulton) tells him to hold on to a suitcase and not to let go.

Allan doesn't.

Thru the course of the film we learn that due to Allan's obsession for explosives he was sent to a racist doctor who castrated him. Allan still wanted to eviscerate things and people with dynamite.

The opening sequences are quite funny with Allan wondering in a deadpan way why "everyone is screaming at him." Gustafsson has a terrific deadpan delivery in nonchalantly facing the absurdist anger of those around him, mainly a biker gang that is rendered useless by rage.

But there are flashbacks that play like anemic "Forrest Gump" scenes that are far too silly to be funny, including a drunk Harry S. Truman who looks nothing like the real person, an "idiot" Einstein brother (really?) and a vulgar Reagan who says "tear down this wall."


It is the strength of Allan's deadpan matter of factness that makes the funny bits stand out. The juice of the comic bits are not that this guy is a hundred but that he is so non-committal and passive. When a kingpin, Pim, (the vividly white and scary Alan Ford) is fuming with rage, Allan simply replies, "he really wants to kill a lot of people." Such bits are masterful, but then the flashbacks occur with historical figures meant to be campy and clever but who just veer into kiddie  silliness. A bumbling crazy haired Einstein brother in a repetitive "Who's on First" routine rings ridiculous and too far fetched.

The ending too goes into a circle and seems all too formulaic, pre-packaged into a feel-good style that we have seen before from the teen films of Robert Zemeckis to Chris Columbus.

The main thrust of "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared" with its uber-hostile thugs in a cat and mouse chase is zany and satisfying. This by itself would have been   enough. The added flashbacks however,  turn the best of the oddness into a cheap and simplistic cartoon that panders and talks down to its audience (as if we should be toddlers) despite it taking a century to unfold.

Write Ian at ianfree1@yahoo.com

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