Directed by Felix Herngren
Starring Robert Gustafsson, Iwar Wiklander, David Wiberg and Alan Ford
Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) is about to be turn 100. His retirement home has organised a huge party to celebrate his Birthday. Allan escapes from his room, accidentally takes possession of a ruthless gangster’s millions, gathers up a group of people just as peculiar as he is who decide to go on a unique journey with him.In a series of flashbacks narrated by a casual Allan we see how he has become this outgoing, zany character.
Based on the successful Swedish novel by the same name, the initial comparison to Forrest Gump is expected. However, as I sat and watched Allan go on his exciting adventures with a unique, nonchalant outlook on life the more I was reminded of Woody Allen’s under-appreciated classic Zelig. Allen plays Zelig who, similar to Allan, meets various dictators and notorious historical figures but has a chameleon like attribute where he can perfectly mimic anybody he is around. In this case however, Karlsson has no desire to mimic anybody in order to fit into society. Early on we learn that Allan has a knack for blowing things up due to his infatuation with dynamite. This trait doubles as not only his drawback but talent by both putting him in and getting him out of serious situations. In a strange twist, I felt as though the film almost plays out like an accidental homage to Michael Bay’s approach of filmmaking in a playful manner.
There are many elements to enjoy including colourful imagery, a witty script and very well executed set pieces handled confidently by director Herngren, but Gustafsson is the real star here. We meet many characters along the way and some of them are one dimensional. However, all the performances are pitch-perfect, so while you may miss Gustafsson when he is absent from a scene the company is still pleasant and effective. This also serves a purpose by putting more focus on the very likable Allan, and makes the audience want to root for him even more as the world is clearly not smart or fun enough to keep up with him and his antics.
Great performances, many laughs and the right amount of drama this film has an unusual and all too rare but entertaining mixture of slapstick comedy and poignant sophistication.