Movie Review: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

This week I am taking a light vacation for a few days. Reviews for Entourage, Spy, and Insidious: Chapter 3 will be days late as a result. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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Since Get Hard I have been reluctant to see most comedies. I am now more than ever hesitant about anything I do not already find funny. Though it appeared charming in the trailer, I did not go into The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared expecting to laugh. Was I proven wrong or am I right to think comedy is dead?

I am not sure it is that comedy is dead, but contemporary comedy is on its way to the grave. Since 2000, I cannot recall a decent comedy that did not feature Will Ferrell or was not made by Judd Apatow. As the years went on, the standards of humor degraded and wasted away into un-funny jokes based solely on awkward situational gags. With that came an appreciation for classic comedies and 100-Year Old Man does its best to emulate those hallowed works.

The story follows Allan, played by Robert Gustafsson, a retired bomb maker perpetually oblivious to the world around him. On his 100th birthday Allan is drawn away from his retirement home by the sounds of explosions and embarks on an unintentional journey. Along the way he picks up a variety of followers while avoiding a gang of skinheads that want a suitcase Allan took for himself.

100-Year Old Man feels like a mix of the best of Monty Python, The Blues Brother (the first one, of course), and Forest Gump directed by Swedes. On top of the pursuit, road trip, and life story elements is a kaleidoscope of the most ridiculous dark humor I have ever seen. Allan and his companions actively kill, injure, and dispose of corpses in such a way to be played for laughs. While that does not sound like an ideal comedy, the film uses its theme of accepting fate to make it work.

Right from the start Allan believes he should go through life according to whatever happens around him. He is of the opinion thinking too much gets you hurt and one need only go with the flow of reality and/or fate, no matter the outcome. He understands he has no control over what goes on in the world and whatever happens to him was simply meant to.

The first victim dies after the characters forget they left him in a walk-in freezer before they hide his body in a crate like it was a casual process. Being a comedy, the shock is played for laughs because they accept their accidental killing of another human being and deal with it as if it were an ordinary event.

In an obvious allusion to the Forest Gump influence, between scenes from the present are flashbacks to Allan growing up and experiencing a variety or historical events like the Spanish Civil War and the invention of the Atom Bomb. The flashbacks further establish Allan’s acceptance of fate and how it has made his life wholesome and rife with unique experiences.

One negative I am reluctant to point out is the foreign-ness of 100-Year Old Man. American audiences who have never heard of Monty Python will be confused by the style of humor and take it way too seriously. Another aspect conventional audiences will find issue with is the use of subtitles because the film is Swedish. Then again, mainstream moviegoers usually have no interest in foreign movies.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared was an interesting end to my week that more than made up for the rage inducing shit-storm of Aloha. It reaffirmed my appreciation for classic comedy and inspires hope of a reemergence in the near future. Definitely go see it if you can.

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