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In Marc Forster ’s genial, earnest yet unremarkable dramedy “A Man Called Otto,” the titular character Otto can’t pick his daily battles even if his life depended on it. Living in an unfussy suburban neighborhood of identical row houses somewhere in the Midwest, the aging man gets easily annoyed by every little misstep of a stranger. And his protests are so pronounced that they even rival Larry David ’s in an average episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Portrayed by the beloved Tom Hanks in an indistinct performance that splits the difference between quirky and grounded, Otto is often right about his grievances, to his credit. Why should he pay for six feet of rope and waste a few extra cents, for instance, when he bought just a little over five? Why shouldn’t he warn inconsiderate drivers who often block garage doors or entitled neighbors who can’t as much as remember to close a gate and respect basic rules about trash disposal? Or pick up a fuss when the soulless real estate guys from the fictional and hilariously named “Dye & Merica” show up to sabotage the community’s peace?
Then again, not everything is as awful as Otto makes them out to be. And he could perhaps afford to have some manners himself, especially when a new, very pregnant neighbor drops by with a bowl of home-cooked meal as a courtesy.
If you’ve already seen 2015’s Oscar-nominated Swedish hit “ A Man Called Ove ” by Hannes Holm , a film that is not any better or worse than this middle-of-the-road American remake (yes, not all originals are automatically superior), you’ll know that Otto hasn’t always been this insufferable. In small doses of syrupy and visually overworked flashbacks, Forster and agile screenwriter David Magee show us that he was socially awkward even from his young days, but at least nice and approachable. With a squarely unstylish side-part haircut that aptly gives out a “nice but unworldly guy” vibe, young Otto (played by the star’s own son, Truman Hanks) had an interest in engineering, in figuring out how things work. His life apparently changed when he accidentally met the dreamy Sonya ( Rachel Keller ), who later on became his wife and passed away recently.
As was the case in “Ove,” Otto can’t wait to join his wife on the other side, but his frequent suicide attempts get interrupted in episodes that are sometimes awkwardly funny, and other times, just plain awkward. The chief interrupters of our get-off-my-lawn guy are the abovementioned new neighbors: the happily married-with-kids couple Marisol (a bubbly and scene-stealing Mariana Treviño , the absolute best thing about the film) and Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), who often ask little favors from the grumpy Otto. There are also others in the neighborhood, like a kindly transgender teenager Malcolm (Mack Bayda) thrown out of his house by his dad, the fitness-obsessed Jimmy ( Cameron Britton ), Otto’s old friend Rueben ( Peter Lawson Jones), and his wife Anita (Juanita Jennings), who are no longer on cordial terms with Otto. And let’s not forget a stray cat that no one seems to know what to do with for a while.
The mystery is that none of the supporting personalities in this story can take a hint about Otto, at least not well into the film’s second act. Instead, all the characters collectively treat Otto with patience and acceptance, as if he isn’t being willfully rude to them every chance he gets. For example, it’s anyone’s guess why Otto’s work colleagues bother to throw him a retirement party when it will surely go unappreciated or why Marisol continuously insists on trying to bring out the good side of him when Otto offensively shuts down every one of her genuine attempts.
Still, the story manages to land some charms when Otto finally lets his guard down and starts making all the expected amends, while suffering a rare heart condition on the side. First, he becomes a local hero when he unwittingly saves someone’s life in front of a group of unhelpful people too preoccupied with their phones. Later on, he racks up additional goodwill when he takes Malcolm in and builds a slow yet steady friendship with Marisol, a rewarding storyline in an otherwise predictable tale.
But the biggest win of Forster’s adaptation is its worthwhile message about the small wins of everyday people who operate as a functioning and harmonious community against the evils of faceless corporations. “A Man Called Otto” isn’t exactly as philosophical as “ About Schmidt ” or as socially conscious as “ I, Daniel Blake ,” two films that occasionally hit similar notes. But it’s nevertheless a wholesome crowd-pleaser for your next family gathering.
In limited release now, wide on January 13th.
Tomris Laffly is a freelance film writer and critic based in New York. A member of the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC), she regularly contributes to RogerEbert.com , Variety and Time Out New York, with bylines in Filmmaker Magazine, Film Journal International, Vulture, The Playlist and The Wrap, among other outlets.
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A Man Called Otto (2022)
Tom Hanks as Otto Anderson
Mariana Treviño as Marisol
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A Man Called Otto Reviews
Tom Hanks gets in touch with his inner Larry David as the curmudgeonly sexegenarian at the heart of Marc Forster’s lukewarm English-language remake of Hannes Holm’s Oscar-nominated “A Man Called Ova.”
Full Review | Original Score: B- | Mar 13, 2023
With Hanks as its star, Marc Forster’s safe Hollywood remake is all the more predictable.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Mar 2, 2023
A Man Called Otto is mechanically engineered for maximum lachrymosal extraction.
Full Review | Feb 28, 2023
Tom Hanks is trying to channel his inner Clint Eastwood for this US adaptation of Fredrik Bachman’s Swedish best-seller - the problem is, he simply isn’t grouchy enough
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Feb 26, 2023
A film that gets by thanks to Hanks' unwavering watchability though there's not a beat or a revelation we haven't seen before and taking its biggest emotional cue directly from She's Having a Baby is an annoyingly misguided choice.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Feb 16, 2023
This slice of superior schmaltz has Tom Hanks as a fastidious late-middle-aged grump who hates everyone, from overcharging shop assistants to neighbours who put their recycling in the wrong bin.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Feb 15, 2023
Tom Hanks does his best to look mean, but his inherent affability never fails to shine through. Otto discovers to his disgust that there is no avoiding mushiness.
Full Review | Feb 11, 2023
With a terrific supporting cast – Mariana Trevino is the MVP of this journey, and she’s a force of nature as the kind neighbor Marisol. Without her as a counterpart, this would be a difficult, one-note story.
Full Review | Original Score: B+ | Feb 3, 2023
It’s the kind of schmaltzy, big performance studio drama that used to get a billion Oscar nominations, and darn it, I kind of miss those being in vogue.
Full Review | Feb 2, 2023
A sweet story of the power of community to bring someone back from the brink of suicide. A film like this depends on the performances - and here there are some weak links and some standout performances.
Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Feb 1, 2023
A predictable tear-jerker made no less enjoyable or heartfelt by its predictability.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jan 31, 2023
Hanks plays the feel-good card, mixed with comic moments, sentimentality, and a cute cat. Cat or not, [it] emphasizes that living improves by interacting warmly with others.
Full Review | Jan 26, 2023
When a feature needs a good-natured supporting character to make its audience care about its hostile protagonist, that isn't a great sign.
Despite its slow start, Otto mostly hits its emotional mark
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4 | Jan 26, 2023
Mawkish and tonally messy, A Man Called Otto squanders a pertinent story about loneliness in favour of old geezer antics. Not even the universally beloved Hanks can save a film that mishandles its sentiment so badly.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jan 25, 2023
Marc Forster and screenwriter David Magee previously worked together on Finding Neverland, so they know just how to frame tragic circumstances with a lighter touch, while not skimping on the emotional gut punch
Full Review | Jan 25, 2023
“A Man Called Otto” lays down a familiar pattern for its storytelling and action. The movie clicks because Tom Hanks delivers a performance that is always in the moment. You sense there’s a more pleasant past Otto could recapture, if he’s willing.
Full Review | Jan 23, 2023
With cowardly mildness, this white-bread mush misuses its star’s likability. Tom Hanks trying to be grumpy yet endearing has the opposite impact. He’s somehow less endearing than he’s been before.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jan 21, 2023
Touches on the same weighty themes as 'Ove' — isolation, suicide, and mortality among them — but from the start, director Marc Forster...pulls back the drapes to brighten what in the original version was a decidedly murky room.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | Jan 21, 2023
A surprisingly cranky Tom Hanks can't elevate this cringe-worthy drama.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | Jan 20, 2023
A Man Called Otto (2022)
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A Man Called Otto
Common Sense says
Neighborly love warms comedy about suicidal curmudgeon.
Based on 9 reviews
Based on 10 reviews
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What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tom Hanks produced and stars in A Man Called Otto, an ultimately life-affirming dramedy that deals frankly with suicidal ideation. Adapted from Fredrik Backman's bestselling book and the Academy Award-nominated 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove , it centers on a man named Otto (Hanks), the epitome of the cranky "get off my lawn" type, who wants to end his life as a matter of efficiency. The movie presents a series of humorously interrupted attempts at his death via suicide (using a rope, asphyxiation, a gun, etc.), all of which lead to the point at which Otto realizes that, while his wife and career are gone, life can still be fulfilling. The movie encourages giving others grace, since you may not be aware of what they're going through. The residents in Otto's housing complex are diverse in terms of age, gender, race, economics, disability, and health, and they're the definition of "neighborly." Otto is counterbalanced by Marisol ( Mariana Treviño ), a positively portrayed Mexican immigrant mother of two who moves in across the street. In addition to Otto's attempts at ending his life, there's a road rage incident. Otto is impatient with others and calls them "idiots," "bastards," and "pr--ks." Other language includes "s--t" and "goddamn." Characters kiss.
- Parents say (9)
- Kids say (10)
Multiple Realistic and Long-Form Depictions of Suicide
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Could be triggering to those with mental illness, what's the story.
Tom Hanks is A MAN CALLED OTTO, the neighborhood crank who has no tolerance for those who don't follow the rules. After retiring and the loss of his wife, Otto feels he has nothing else to live for. But his pesky neighbors keep interrupting his attempts to end his life.
Is It Any Good?
With this remarkably warm and fulfilling film, Hanks and director Marc Forster pull off the impossible: making a family-friendly suicide comedy. Even though the 2015 Swedish original starring Rolf Lassgård was quite successful, after watching A Man Called Otto , it feels impossible to picture anyone else in the starring role. Hanks' grumpy old man trumps all of those who came before him: Clint Eastwood , Walter Matthau , Jack Lemmon , etc. He's so beloved that every rude thing he says is likely to make you laugh, and Forster smartly balances the crankiness by surrounding Otto with warmhearted souls who return his barbs with a knowing look and a smile: Yep, that's Otto! They don't take his mean streak to heart, and it allows viewers to go on the journey and care about him.
While we might understand that Otto "is something special," he's also the dark to the light that is Marisol (Mariana Treviño), the very pregnant woman who moves across the street from Otto. She's a flutter of radiant energy that just refuses to be pushed aside by Otto's hostility. And she's just one strong example of positive diverse representation in the film. The residents in Otto's townhouse complex represent "community" in every sense of the word: They're a family in their own unique way, with residents from all stages and walks of life who look out for each other in good times and bad. While Otto's suicide attempts do make the film too mature for younger children, it's a strong choice for movie night with teens and grandparents.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how A Man Called Otto plays on viewers' compassion . How can we practice patience for those who exhibit bitter behavior while also not indulging unacceptable treatment?
How does the movie portray depression and suicidal ideation? What should you do if you're worried about a friend or family member? What resources are available to help both kids and adults ? (If you or someone you love is in crisis, you can contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.)
Even though Otto is impatient and unkind, did you find yourself rooting for him? What skills does Hanks use to make Otto likable and vulnerable?
Talk about the diversity represented in Otto's neighborhood. Does this accurately reflect real life? Why is positive representation in the media important?
- In theaters : December 30, 2022
- On DVD or streaming : February 28, 2023
- Cast : Tom Hanks , Mariana Treviño , Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
- Director : Marc Forster
- Studio : Columbia Pictures
- Genre : Comedy
- Topics : Book Characters
- Character Strengths : Compassion
- Run time : 126 minutes
- MPAA rating : PG-13
- MPAA explanation : mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language
- Last updated : March 2, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
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So-so comedy with insults, sexual humor. No kid appeal.
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Review: Even with Tom Hanks, ‘A Man Called Otto’ sticks to the grumpy-old-guy formula
“A Man Called Otto” is a grumpy-old-man movie that does several interesting things, but it can’t make itself into something other than a grumpy-old-man movie. Formula is destiny, and so the broad outlines of the movie are predetermined: He starts off nasty, nasty, nasty, then gets slightly less nasty, and ends up not nasty. End of movie.
Based on the novel “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, which was made into a Swedish movie that was nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar in 2017, this movie stars Bay Area native Tom Hanks as an old guy who has pretty much given up on life following the death of his wife. It’s hard to say exactly how long ago she died. The tombstone says 2018. The action is set in 2022. But late in the movie, he says that his wife died less than a year ago. So, whenever it happened, it’s recent.
Otto’s grief has now turned to anger and taken a particular form. He has become a stickler for rules. He insists that people park a certain way and that delivery people not use a private access road. Basically, he is trying to impose order on chaos. His wife’s death has caused him to see the world as uncontrollable and malevolent, so he fights against disorder with vehemence, as though it were the force that robbed him of all happiness.
This is what happens when you put a really good actor in a routine formula movie. He makes sense of it. For example, throughout the picture, people keep being nice to Otto, even though he’s unpleasant to everybody. Without winking at the audience, Hanks suggests that, underneath it all, Otto is a fairly decent guy — not cuddly and not a softy, but someone reliable and with a conscience. And the people around him sense this.
Hanks is also able to suggest that Otto’s misery is almost outside of his control. Anger is his alternative to despair.
Hanks’ portrayal is reinforced by Marc Forster ’s direction of the flashback scenes, where Otto is a young man, with the woman who’d eventually become his wife (Rachel Keller). We see what Otto was like originally, as played by Hanks ’ son Truman Hanks: shy, sensitive, gentle. This is the Otto his wife knew, and this is the inner self he’s protecting with all that rage.
“A Man Called Otto” isn’t big on events — it’s more like a sitcom, embroidering on a fixed situation. But the one genuinely new element is that Otto gets new neighbors, a young couple, Marisol (Mariana Treviño) and Tommy (Manuel Garcia Rulfo) and their two kids. For some reason, Marisol seizes on Otto as her new pal, and she and her husband keep bringing him food and asking him for favors.
Treviño brings a lot of warmth to Marisol, and it’s too bad that the script doesn’t lean on her more. For example, why is she oblivious to Otto’s nastiness? As it stands, she doesn’t seem to notice. It would be more interesting if she intuited his pain and was actively trying to bring him out of it.
Then again, that might not have made a difference. “A Man Called Otto” is a formula movie, and no matter the nuances, this formula is not that satisfying. It’s basically 90 minutes of Tom Hanks scowling and being sour to everybody. Picture “A Christmas Carol,” but without Christmas and without the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. And without Fezziwig. And without the joyful uplift.
There is snow, however. It takes place in Pittsburgh in winter, so there’s lots of snow.
L “A Man Called Otto”: Drama. Starring Tom Hanks and Mariana Treviño. Directed by Marc Forster. (PG-13. 126 minutes.) In theaters Friday, Jan. 6.
- Mick LaSalle Follow: Mick LaSalle Mick LaSalle is The San Francisco Chronicle's film critic. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @MickLaSalle
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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘A Man Called Otto’ on VOD, Starring Tom Hanks as a Stereotypical Grumpy Old Man
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A Man Called Otto (now streaming on VOD services like Amazon Prime Video ) continues the current run of Minor Tom Hanks performances, which began a few years back with throwback maritime war thriller Greyhound and continued through the Western News of the World , the disarmingly Chappie -esque Finch , his annoying OTT turn in Elvis and that damned Pinocchio “live action” remake. Otto – which grossed north of $100 million at the worldwide box office – finds him playing a character you non-subtitle-averse people may be familiar with, since the film is an Americanized remake of 2015 Swedish dark comedy A Man Called Ove , about a persnickety grump of a lonely old man whose repeated attempts to off himself routinely fail. What Hanks, a true treasure of the cinema, does with the role is… well, more disappointing than anything else.
A MAN CALLED OTTO : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Otto (Hanks) can’t BELIEVE he has to pay for two yards of rope to hang himself with when he only needs five feet. And don’t get him STARTED on the shoddy craftsmanship of the eye hook he drills into his ceiling – it won’t even bear the weight of an adult human long enough for one to properly asphyxiate one’s self with a noose. Oh well. Since Otto’s not dead, he may as well go on with his usual routine of nitpicking every little rule and ordinance of his condo complex, you know, your bike goes here and not here , who the hell keeps putting metal in the recycling bin for plastic, who keeps leaving the gate open and, while we’re at it, let’s not be nice to the affectionate stray cat that wanders the neighborhood. “Idiots” is a thing he grumbles under his breath constantly. He’s just been unwillingly “retired” from the job he’s had for a zillion years – his co-workers seem to relish driving a knife into the photo of his face rendered as frosting atop his goodbye cake – and he lays in bed next to a conspicuous empty spot that tells us HEY THE POOR A-HOLE’S WIFE IS DEAD SO MAYBE CUT HIM A LITTLE SLACK. Even though cutting anyone slack has apparently never crossed his mind. When he goes low, we go high, right?
There’s no slack in that noose rope, though. He’s about to do himself in when there arises such a clatter from across the road. It’s his new neighbors moving in, and they can’t park the damn U-Haul trailer: Idiots. He parks it for them because if you want anything done right you have to do it yourself and everyone is stupid but Otto and he does not suffer fools, which is the rest of the population, because he’s the only one on the whole dadgum planet who’s not a fool. The new neighbors are led by Marisol (Mariana Treviño), a happy-go-lucky mom of two girls with another baby on the way and a dope of a husband (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who can’t do anything without breaking something, including his own bones. These people could really use a friend who knows how to do things, but jeez, Otto’s level of pragmatism is a bit, shall we say, unnecessary .
Otto visits his wife’s grave and flashes back to when he met Sonya (Rachel Keller), an angel of a human being who was utterly flawless, or perhaps not, because one wonders if her ability to nurture the type of bellyaching grousemonkey that Otto becomes was, indeed, a flaw. (Notably, Hanks’ son Truman Hanks plays young Otto.) Marisol gives Otto some delicious food, and starts chipping away at his crusty veneer. She needs driving lessons, and if anyone who isn’t a grade-A moron is going to teach her, the only option is Otto, who might actually have a feeling or two under there that he’ll actually almost share. Meanwhile, he babysits her girls, starts getting on a little better with his other wacky neighbors – even some of the less-wacky ones – and maybe that ol’ cat ain’t so bad after all. Also meanwhile, we get a subplot about an evil real estate company that feels completely extraneous, but hey, at least Otto has something else to gripe about.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Otto is Carl Fredricksen from Up crossed with Napoleon Dynamite (“Idiots!”) crossed with Ebenezer Scrooge, and Marisol is similar to Sally Hawkins’ Poppy character from Happy-Go-Lucky , because she’s pretty much unflappable, and also doesn’t know how to drive.
Performance Worth Watching: We walked away from Otto thinking we probably don’t need to see Hanks play another softball character like this (he’s kind of the anti-Mr. Rogers), and also thinking we need to see Treviño – who lights up the screen with her presence – in many more things.
Memorable Dialogue: Otto finds it somewhere in himself to say this to Marisol: “You have given birth to two children. Soon it’ll be three. You have come here from a country very far away. You learned a new language, you got yourself an education and a nitwit husband and you are holding that family together. You will have no problem learning how to drive. My god, the world is full of complete idiots who have managed to figure it out, and you are not a complete idiot.”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: A Man Called Otto is mechanically engineered for maximum lachrymosal extraction. The grouch meets the pollyanna, and something has to give, and this is the type of movie that you know which way it’s going to swing, probably even before you watch it. The reason Otto is the way he is? Well, no spoilers, but it’s pat and predictable, and leads to an aggravating, ballpeen-to-the-noggin ironic twist, and a washy, noncommittal resolution. More troublesome is how the movie treats suicide as a plot device, either to rouse a dark-comic chuckle from us or to make us feel sorry for Otto; it’s simplistic, bordering on distasteful. It didn’t sit well with me, in spite of director Marc Forster’s attempt to gauge the tone so it’s bland and easy to consume.
Treviño works hard to be the film’s saving grace, but I’m not sure it’s worth saving. As for the Otto character, it seems tailored to plug into the Hanks algorithm so he may execute the commands of a schmaltz-ridden screenplay that’s overburdened with subplots and characters, and rather jejune in its approach to sensitive emotional content. Which isn’t to say Hanks is bad; seeing him inhabit a cartoon like Otto can be entertaining, and he enjoys the occasional exchange with Treviño that strikes a chord of truth. But when the writing is this flimsy, it forces even a stalwart superstar actor into playing little more than a caricature.
Our Call: SKIP IT. A Man Called Otto is watchable at best, tone deaf at worst.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Home » Movie News » A Man Called Otto Review
A Man Called Otto Review
PLOT: A curmudgeonly widower named Otto (Tom Hanks) becomes entwined in the lives of his needy neighbors, much to his (initial) dismay.
REVIEW: Early on in A Man Called Otto , there’s a scene where Tom Hanks, as the cantankerous Otto, visits a home hardware store to buy himself some rope. He plans to go home and hang himself, but once he gets to the cash, he has a long argument about how they’re charging him for more rope than he needs. This scene is depicted as “wacky,” and it just about sums up all of the issues I have with the film. In it, Tom Hanks’s character is so depressed that we’re supposed to believe that once he gets home with this rope, he will kill himself. The way Marc Forster directs this scene and Hanks acts it, this sequence feels like something out of a sitcom, and you never, for one second, believe Otto is so depressed that suicide is a legit option for him.
Given that A Man Called Otto is a remake of a much-admired Swedish film, A Man Called Ove , which was based on a novel, one can reasonably assume the story has been done better elsewhere. One can’t fault the source material, even if the story likely lost something in the change of setting from Sweden to North America. Here, Hanks plays the curmudgeonly Otto, who’s been in a funk ever since his beloved wife died of cancer. He’s been forced into retiring from his job, and with empty days of sitting at home ahead of him without his wife, he decides to end things. However, whenever he gets ready to do the deed, he’s interrupted by his chipper new neighbour, Marisol (Mariana Treviño). Unable to drive and often needing help with her kids, the pregnant woman usually has little things she needs Otto’s help with, to his initial dismay. There’s also a cute cat that won’t leave him alone and quickly warns the old man’s heart.
For his part, Hanks seems to relish playing the grumpy Otto, but given how beloved he is, the role feels like a put-on. Hanks has this twinkle in his eye that makes Otto a lovable old guy, whereas perhaps a less beloved actor might have been better able to convey some pathos (I kept thinking Bryan Cranston would have been excellent). It’s tough because A Man Called Otto is the kind of movie that will divide an audience. It lives and dies by Hanks’ performance, and if you find yourself moved by him in it, you’ll love the movie. If, like me, you find the performance unconvincing, then the film becomes a bit of a sentimental ordeal.
The film also includes a lot of flashbacks depicting Otto’s life with his wife. In his younger years, he’s played by Hanks’ son Truman, with his wife, Sonya, played by Rachel Keller . While this is meant to evoke how profound Otto’s loss was, Sonya never emerges as a full-fledged character but comes across as impossibly saintly. She and Otto seem like a mismatched pair, and their romance feels wafer-thin, right down to the big set piece, which is scored by Kate Bush’s “This Woman’s Work” (although movie buffs will remember the song being used similarly in the underrated She’s Having a Baby ). While they’re shown to have been faced with some adversity in later years, all of this is left offscreen, with Otto only recalling the early days, to the point that when Sonya appears to him late in the film, we only ever see her as a young woman.
In the end, A Man Called Otto is the kind of movie some folks will love, and some will dismiss. It hit a sour note for me right from the start, making it a tough film to surrender to. It’s sentimental in a forced way and lacks the cynical bite many have said the original has, with any rough edges sanded off on its way to becoming big-budget, awards-friendly studio fare. How you react to A Man Called Otto totally depends on whether you can go along with Hanks’ performance and, for the second time this year (after his over-the-top Colonel Parker marred the otherwise excellent Elvis ), I found myself unconvinced by the mighty Tom.
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A Man Called Otto Review
Tom hanks gets old and cranky in a heart-wrenching tale of loss and aging..
A Man Called Otto hits U.S. theaters on Jan. 13, 2023.
There’s no getting around it; Otto (Tom Hanks) is old. We first meet him at a local DIY store attempting to buy some rope, with hilariously cranky results. Imagine a curmudgeonly, elderly man refusing to get with the times and taking it out on everyone around him. A Man Called Otto is exactly that… at least, at first. But you’ll soon find that it’s actually a film that explores the bleak existence of an elderly man who’s stuck in limbo – a life after life where he’s lost his place in the world. Thankfully, it’s not too long before he finds a new one. While it’s a perfectly heart-wrenching set-up, it doesn’t bring much else to the table, leaning on old tropes and a simple plot to tell a just-okay story about Hanks’ old grouch.
When the Mendes family moves in across the street, Marisol (Mariana Treviño), her husband Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and their two daughters throw Otto’s life into disarray. They’re the annoyingly perky neighbors who always want to borrow a wrench or need help with a window. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what happens next, as director Marc Forster uses just about every cliché in the book to hammer home Otto’s changing outlook on life.
But let’s back up for a moment. In between tubs of cookies and requests for babysitting, we learn that Otto is desperately sad. He lost his wife, Sonya (Rachel Keller), less than a year ago, and he’s a shadow of the man he once was, who we learn about through a liberal helping of flashbacks. In some ways, it’s easy to compare A Man Called Otto to one of Hanks’ more famous films – it’s basically the anti-Forrest Gump.
Otto is definitely on the opposite end of the happiness spectrum, but it’s more than that. A Man Called Otto highlights all the greatest hits of Otto’s life, but it starts at the opposite end of a life lived. Through flashbacks, we learn why Otto is the way he is, as well as find out more about the love of his life… and exactly why she meant so much to him.
What's Tom Hanks' best movie?
The trouble is, there’s just nothing truly unique going on here. That’s not to say A Man Called Otto isn’t a decent enough film – it tugs at the heartstrings in all the right places, and you’ll be hard-pressed to walk out of the theater with dry eyes by the end. But it’s not exactly full of twists and turns; quite the opposite. The final act is telegraphed from a million miles away, and it all feels perhaps a bit too familiar.
Based on the New York Times best-seller, A Man Called Otto does everything you expect… but little else. Forster does his best to inject some life into proceedings in the form of some curiously eccentric neighbors. Unfortunately, the rather twee elements of finding a new family and the excruciatingly labored metaphors laced liberally throughout distract from any originality you might find. There are even scenes of the literal changing of the seasons, to add to some of the not-so-subtle metaphors. Yeah.
Thankfully, Hanks is in typically good form as Otto, lending an air of gravitas to what could be a startlingly pedestrian role. Instead, Hanks walks a fine line between loveable grouch and eccentric geriatric, with plenty of his trademark heart thrown in for good measure. A debut performance from his son, Truman Hanks, is less impressive. Not that there’s anything wrong with his acting, but Truman suffers from having little to work with – much of his role revolves around cooing over the love of young Otto’s life, making doe-eyes at the pretty girl and following her, unerringly, wherever she may go. Not exactly an actor’s wildest dream.
Still, he proves himself to be adequate, at least… and with some stirring performances from Otto’s neighbors, the cast carries this decidedly unremarkable story on its capable shoulders. Throw in some truly funny moments in its unexpectedly witty script, and there’s just enough to make the film worth watching.
A Man Called Otto is ultimately a formulaic comedy-drama that leans far too much on tried and tested cliches. A charismatic central performance from Hanks elevates the movie, albeit slightly, with standout performances from Mariana Treviño and Cameron Britton. A tight script punctuates Otto’s misery with some truly memorable comic moments, and Forster wrangles the potentially miserable tale into something far more uplifting. A Man Called Otto is often gut-wrenching and sometimes even charming, but it just fails to bring much new to the table. If you can enjoy it for what it is, you’ll be rewarded with a sweet tale of an old man losing his place in the world only to find an entirely new one.
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‘A Man Called Otto’ movie review: A terrific Tom Hanks in an endearing dark-comedy
An adaptation of fredrick backman’s bestseller ‘a man called ove,’ marc forster’s dark-comedy has tom hanks playing a widower wrestling with grief, and the film feels like a warm hug from a dear friend.
February 10, 2023 05:39 pm | Updated 05:39 pm IST
Tom Hanks in a still from ‘A Man Called Otto’ | Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment
O-T-T-O (Tom Hanks) would like you to believe that he’s a 21st-century Scrooge. A stickler for rules, he scoffs at neighbours who do not sort their garbage and keeps their pets at arm’s length. Like the machines he dearly loves, Otto is mechanical with his routine and is cautious with his emotions.
David Magee’s adaptation of Fredrick Backman’s bestseller A Man Called Ove is a fable of a 63-year-old widower wrestling with grief after losing his wife to cancer.
Otto strives to insulate himself from the people around him and plots to die by suicide until his new neighbours move in and play spoilsport. Marisol (Mariana Treviño), an immigrant mother of two adorable daughters and a wife to Tommy (Manuel Garcia Rulfo), an IT guy, looks at life as a glass half-full. On their first day in the new house, she brings a box of pollo con mole (chicken in mole sauce) to Otto because she thought he looked like a “hungry man.” She forces him into situations that need him to extend empathy and love — from asking him to become her driving instructor to turning him into a babysitter at her convenience — and her spirit cracks Otto’s hard exterior.
A Man Called Otto (English)
Director Marc Forster does not treat the old man with kid gloves; he lets him enrage and amuse the audience and thereby drives us closer to understanding an old man trying to salvage the meaning of life. The creators of the movie want us to leave our pessimism at the door and embrace the old grumpy man in ourselves.
Tom Hanks, an actor with over 95 acting credits and two Academy Awards to his name — and one who has been nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards that honour the “worst of cinematic failures” for his performances in Baz Luhrmann’s musical biopic Elvis and the live-action Disney remake of Pinocchio — struggles free with his performance as Otto; making us believe that this is just the beginning of his redemption arc. Mariana Treviño also successfully establishes her presence on the screen with her effervescent portrayal of Marisol. Supporting actors like Manuel Garcia-Ruflo, Rachel Keller, Cameron Britton, and Juanita Jennings successfully bring a community to life.
The 126-minute-long movie highlights the importance of community and a shared sense of belonging that forces Otto to continue living. Watching Otto grapple with moments of hopelessness and self-doubt that weigh heavily on his conscience will most definitely tug at your heartstrings. However, all the tears are worth it. All in all, the movie feels like a warm hug from a dear friend.
A Man Called Otto is currently running in theatres.
English cinema / World cinema
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I really enjoyed the movie, and though the 'flashbacks' are syrupy sweet, it is important to note that these are not retelling the events as
Movie Info · Rating: PG-13 (Mature Thematic Material|Language|Suicide Attempts) · Genre: Comedy, Drama · Original Language: English · Director: Marc Forster.
Mawkish and tonally messy, A Man Called Otto squanders a pertinent story about loneliness in favour of old geezer antics. Not even the universally beloved Hanks
The movie is a delightful comedy drama full of joy and hilarity, but also with moments of heartfelt emotion. The story's frank, unflinching, and unapologetic
For this reason, the film should only be available to those who are over 18 and willing to endure such depictions. Do not see this movie unless you are
“A Man Called Otto” is a formula movie, and no matter the nuances, this formula is not that satisfying. It's basically 90 minutes of Tom Hanks
More troublesome is how the movie treats suicide as a plot device, either to rouse a dark-comic chuckle from us or to make us feel sorry for
It hit a sour note for me right from the start, making it a tough film to surrender to. It's sentimental in a forced way and lacks the cynical
A Man Called Otto is ultimately a formulaic comedy-drama that leans far too much on tried and tested cliches. A charismatic central performance
The 126-minute-long movie highlights the importance of community and a shared sense of belonging that forces Otto to continue living. Watching