Movie Reviews: How To Train Your Dragon 2

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared ****
How To Train Your Dragon 2 ****
Tammy **

Hugely popular though they are, Scandinavian crime dramas — The Killing, The Bridge, Borgen et al — tend to trail a mood of doom and gloom in their wake. The comedy crime caper The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (15A) comes as something of a breath of fresh air, then, as it follows the adventures of centenarian Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson), a feisty codger who escapes the stifling confines of an old folks’ home on the day of his 100th birthday. Allan heads straight for the train station, where he soon finds himself in possession of a suitcase stuffed full of illicit cash, and his improbable adventure is off and running as he tries to stay one shuffling step ahead of the skinhead motorcycle gang who want their filthy lucre back. Not that Allan is an easy target for any gang of young whippersnappers: a dynamite expert, Allan has during a very interesting life rubbed shoulders with Franco, Stalin, Truman and Oppenheimer. Based on the runaway bestseller by Jonas Jonasson, Felix Herngren’s movie is wry tale of triumph against overwhelming odds. There are strong echoes of both Forrest Gump and Being There, given Allan’s childlike innocence and imperturbably Zen state of mind, but the story also functions as a cheerfully sly parody of Scandinavian crime dramas. Bracingly irreverent in how it treats the manifold indignities of old age, The 100 Year Old Man … is very likely the quirkiest comedy crime caper you’ll see this year.

Set five years on from the events of its predecessor, How To Train Your Dragon 2 (G) opens with a celebration of the close links between the Vikings of Berk Island and the dragons they used to hunt and kill. Their idyllic relationship is threatened, however, when Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrara) discover a previously undiscovered ice cave that is home to hundreds of new dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider. Soon they find themselves battling against the ferocious Drago (Djimon Hounsou), who plans to conquer the known world by capturing all the dragons and turning Vikings and dragons into foes again. Less dynamically exciting in terms of story than the original, this sequel — directed again by Dean DeBlois for Dreamworks — is at its best when Hiccup and his dragon Toothless are airborne, providing us with visually breathtaking thrills and spills as the pair push one another to their very limits. Some of the set pieces, such as our first glimpse of the ice cave and its hundreds of dragons, are jaw-dropping, but the pace might well flag for younger viewers when the characters come back down to earth. That said, there is a poignant sub-plot involving the sensitive Hiccup, his irrepressibly violent father Stoic the Vast (Gerard Butler) and his long-absent mother Valka (Cate Blanchett), and the darker tone suggests that the filmmakers are aiming here to please a slightly more mature audience, and addressing bigger themes.

Movie Reviews: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Tammy (15A) stars Melissa McCarthy as the eponymous heroine, a woman who has lost her job, her husband and any last shred of dignity she might have possessed, all on the same day. The solution? Run away. Unfortunately, Tammy doesn’t have a car, or any money, so she’s lumbered with her grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), who agrees to fund a road-trip that becomes a journey of self-discovery. McCarthy has both excellent comic timing and a very likeable presence on screen, but — surprisingly perhaps, given that McCarthy serves as a producer, and the movie is directed by her husband, Ben Falcone — here she’s simply reprising the foul-mouthed, passive-aggressive character she’s played ever since she broke out with Bridesmaids, and much of the crude humour falls flat.

There are some very funny moments, such as when McCarthy sticks up a fast-food joint armed only with a pair of sunglasses and a mask made from a paper sack, but these are far and few between. The presence of Sarandon means that the booze-and-pill-fuelled road-trip will almost inevitably draw (negative) comparisons with Thelma and Louise, even she can’t save this from very quickly becoming a trip to nowhere.


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