Review: ‘The Master Detective Lives Dangerously’

An odd mixture of the '40s and the '90s, this adaptation of an Astrid Lindgren kid tome tries to appeal to both children and adults and doesn't fully succeed on either count. A dubbed version, however, could interest offshore TV stations. Lindgren wrote the novel in the late '40s, one of three about Kalle Blomkvist, a 12-year-old boy with ambitions to become a private detective who manages to solve everything from kidnapping to murder. The highly successful books resulted in three equally successful movies.

Once again, the novels are being turned into pics — the other two are to be shot this summer — but on the evidence of first offering, the filmmakers have unfortunately shied away from a thorough updating and created a hybrid. Even though the movie is set in a small town, it’s clearly one from the ’90s; the kids’ clothing, however, looks like it comes from the early ’50s, and the lines they’re given are straight from Lindgren’s original. Problem is, nobody talks like this anymore.

Story concerns a murder that’s been committed on the outskirts of town. Eva-Lotta (Josefin Arling), a friend of Kalle (Malte Forsberg), has seen the killer (Krister Henriksson), who now tries to kill her with poisoned chocolates. Meanwhile, Kalle and his pals search for the killer’s identity, leading to a confrontation in an abandoned old house.

The violence is discreetly handled, and should not scare tyke audiences. Suspense, however, is equally discreet, and the movie will seem dull to children exposed to faster and louder cinematic entertainment.

The Master Detective Lives Dangerously



A Svensk Filmindustri release (in Sweden) of a Svensk Filmindustri production. (International sales: SF, Stockholm.) Produced by Waldemar Bergendahl. Directed by Goran Carmback. Screenplay, Johanna Hald, based on the novel by Astrid Lindgren.


Camera (color), Carl Sundberg; editor, Dominika Daubenbuchel; music, Peter Gronvall; art direction, Olle Remaeus; sound (Dolby SR), Michael Lechner, Mikael Granberg. Reviewed at Svensk Filmindustri screening room, Stockholm, Dec. 20, 1996. (In Berlin Film Festival Kinderfest --- competing.) Running time: 86 MIN.


With: Malte Forsberg, Josefin Arling, Totte Steneby, Victor Sandberg, Bobo Steneby, Johan Stattin, Catherine Hansson, Leif Andree, Erika Hoghede, Toni Wilkens, Ulla Skoog, Jacob Nordensson, Claes Malmberg, Krister Henriksson, Lakke Magnusson.
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