Courtesy Sony Pictures

Movie Review: A Man Called Otto

12:00 January 17, 2023
By: Fritz Esker

American legend Tom Hanks showcases A Man Called Otto, an adaptation of a Swedish book and film called A Man Called Ove. Directed by Marc Forster, who helmed the underrated Will Ferrell vehicle Stranger Than Fiction, the film plays like a non-violent version of Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino. But I liked Gran Torino, so that's fine.

Hanks plays Otto, a grumpy old widower who just retired from an engineering firm that essentially pushed him out. It's clear Otto's had it with life's slings and arrows, and he frequently takes it out on people who annoy him (almost everyone). But one day, a young family moves in next door. The mother, Marisol (Mariana Trevino) is relentlessly friendly and the sheer force of her personality gets Otto to slowly start doing good deeds for others.

It's a fairly conventional storyline, and there's some moments where the film feels a bit too pat and Hallmark Channel-esque. But much like Gran Torino, Otto benefits greatly from having a charismatic lead. Even when Otto behaves poorly, the audience is still with him.

The film features frequent flashbacks depicting the early days of Otto's courtship with his wife (Rachel Keller). Hanks's son, Truman, plays the young Otto. The flashbacks are a good addition to the film because they remind viewers that many seemingly grumpy or sad old people were once young people with hopes, dreams, and loves. Life's disappointments and heartbreaks wear people down, and the juxtaposition of the young and old Otto conveys that message nicely.

Both Hanks fans and people looking for a wholesome dramedy should check out A Man Called Otto.

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