The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared


Teenage girls have their young adult adaptations; teenage boys have their super hero flicks; older folks, I suppose, have protagonists like Allan Karlson — a hundred year old man who flees his dreary retirement home to regain his independence. Alan goes on a journey involving biker gangs, millions of dollars, and elephants, and all the while, the film features flashbacks to his glory days which saw him dance drunk with Stalin and influence the Manhattan project.

This film sends positive messages about how older people can continue to lead youthful lives even into their golden years, while also presenting a pleasant story bursting with nostalgia and well-recognised historical references. This film is The Big Lebowski meets Forrest Gump for seniors.

There aren’t enough movies like this endearing Swedish film that has already broken box-office records in Scandinavia. The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a playful mess of a film, bursting with storytelling tangents, absurd contrivances, and ridiculous exaggerations; it’s like a tall tale told by an old man who is disenchanted with the blandness of living in a retirement home. It is all over the place, but that is the fun of it. 100 Year Old Man’s main flaw is also its greatest pleasure.

For all the crowd pleasing ingredients mixed into the batch, there is a surprising amount of dark humour that often changes the colour of the mix. Yet none of this comes off as offensive because each character in the film does the best they can in the situation they are in. No one in the film is a villain; everyone is in a tough position, which sometimes leads to ridiculous ends and humorous pain.

There is one gut-busting scene in the movie where Alan and another old man are being threatened by a biker who is trying to get $50 million back from the old man. The biker will be killed if he can’t return the money to its rightful owner, so he threatens the old man and his friend. The two seniors knock the biker out and throw him in a deep freezer, but they forget to shut the freezer off, because they probably have some form of dementia, and the poor guy freezes to death.

There is nothing deep or intellectual about this absurd film. It boils down reality and historical events to playful gags. It elevates those trapped to a place where they can forget about their current state through nostalgia for the past and optimism for the future.