Dynamite expert Allan Karlsson’s life, and the unlikely events following his escape from the old folk’s home on his 100th birthday.
Possibly taking the title of ‘film that I’ve watched with the longest title’, Swedish comedy ‘The 100 year old man (etc)’ comes riding high on the back of a bumper showing at the Scandinavian box office, overtaking The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as Sweden’s highest grossing film ever. But in a week where the new Transformers film became China’s highest grossing film of all time after only a week, it’s safe to say that box office success doesn’t necessarily mean a great film.
The film takes us across the life of Allan Karlsson, played almost from start to finish by Robert Gustafsson. The event alluded to in the title happens in the first scene and we follow Allan as he chances upon 50 million Swedish crowns (about £4m) and goes from one mishap to another, collecting friends in the form of retired station master Julius, perennial student Benny and elephant keeper Gunilla, and foes including a motorcycle gang, a cockney gangster and a dopey detective. The storyline has two arcs, one following Allan in this present day caper, and another featuring flashbacks introduced by Allan as narrator as we see the life he led up to reaching 100.
I must say I felt disappointed by this film. I was once again struck by others in the cinema guffawing loudly as I sat stony-faced. Foreign films in general attract a niche crowd at cinemas and foreign comedies even more niche. These laughs I am attributing to an audience who felt that it made them look cool to be laughing at Swedish humour. I doubt that those laughs would have been present had the same film been in English. I must admit to a few laughs though, and the performances were decent enough. I grew weary of the contrived chance meetings with historic figures (Franco, Stalin and Reagan all feature) and the jaunty soundtrack I found annoying. I’ve read comparisons between this film and Forest Gump, and stylistically I suppose they are similar. However, as flawed as Forest Gump may be, it’s a certified masterpiece compared with this. All in all, not great and just not funny enough – though with 5 million book sales and rising, an English-language remake might not be far away. Let’s hope they do better than this.
Review by Richard Mason
Directed By: Felix Herngren
Starring: Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg, Mia Skaringer, Jens Hulten and Alan Ford