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

Going into a movie called Speed, it’s obvious that action is implied by its title, whether it turns out to be automotive or meth-ematical. If its title had been The Gambler, then surely an element of risk would be involved. But films like Shoot Loud, Louder… I Don’t Understand, that requires a leap of faith.

Director Felix Harngren’s movie The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared might befuddle any preconceived notion as far as what to expect, yet it’s one of the few accurately titled pictures in quite a while.

But unlike a character adrift through the fables found in Tim Burton’s Big Fish who establish their life by telling the truth, Allan Karlsson encapsulates his own life as being nothing more than an opportunity to “eat, sleep and blow shit up!” And yet, in the process, he leaves an indelible mark on history… or that is, to hear him tell it!

As a 9th grade dropout, he sees his father hauled away for trying to establish a republic based on condoms. His mother gasps her dying last words saying, “Whatever will be, will be,” leaving the orphaned Allan to pursue his fetish for explosives. While experimenting, he accidentally causes the death of a urinating tourist and gets sent to a mental institution where a “racial biologist” is convinced he must be a black man and recommends that he be sterilized!

As a substitute for orgasm, every event in his life is motivated by explosives! He takes a job in a canon factory, goes off to war in order to drop bombs and dynamite gives him a powerful stimulating reason to live.

So much for background. When the movie begins, Allan is 100 years old and is sent to a retirement home where one day he vanishes. Convinced he is in peril, the local cops determine that Allan has been abducted by a biker gang led by a bald kid with the runs. And from that point on, it just gets weirder and weirder.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared isn’t a mystery, nor is it a comedy. It’s not a buddy road movie or a philosophical treatise on conscience or credibility. It’s all of that stuff centered on an old man who has wormed his way into predicament after predicament, had a cat named Molotov and initially turned down the offer to work on the Manhattan Project because as he understands it, “It’s a lousy drink that tastes like a German Shepherd’s ass!” Only after he discovers that it’s an opportunity to drop a really big bomb does he consent to participate.

There is definitely an element of Baron Munchausen at play, but as we see things unfold, those he’s dealing with in the movie have to go along for the ride. Allan, however, just wants to get lost because at 100, he’s still alive – it’s the rest of the world that’s dying.

Which is entirely understandable to those of us who’ve experienced something more than IMAX. The people who lack that sense of wonder are the ones making decisions that affect the rest of us as though without their input, we are imagination-impaired!

It takes more than bingo and carny cuisine to engage the minds of those who witnessed Sputnik and Jimi Hendrix! It’s doesn’t take a 100-year-old man to plan an escape from the mediocrity, confinement and frustration that has besieged the world today. I feel it every morning when I glance at the Kleenex boxes that pass for cars. My generation expected more; yours settles for less.

We rallied around the cry of EC Comics and Anthony Burgess novels. Be-ins, love-ins and dead-ends ushered in an era of punk rock, Tupac and graphic novels. We envisioned flying cars, you buy hybrids! We went on the road, you went on the dole. Our drugs were made in the kitchen sink, you’re high on designer synthetics!

We kicked out the jams, you go panhandling on Kickstarter!

If you want to make a better world, make something other than text messages.

What’s to keep you from climbing out the window?

Some choose music. Some choose art.

Allan Karlsson chose explosives!

[NR]