A Man Called Otto poster invites us to “fall in love with America’s grumpiest man”. But really, considering he’s played by Tom Hanks, is there any doubt? Regardless, the title character’s inevitable transformation from grumpy bad-temper to lovable soft-bodied doesn’t create much suspense, since the film is a remake of the hit 33 Swedish Film
A Man Called Ove, Adapted From the bestselling novel by Fredrik Backman. Combine that with the fact that you have Jimmy Stewart’s The Modern Heir in the lead role, and you can pretty much predict every beat of this movie.
But that doesn’t make it any less entertaining and emotional, thanks to its reliably effective redemption arc, narrative structure, and Hanks’ enduring attraction. Unlike the Swedish film’s leading man, Rolf Lasgard, who is short-tempered, irascible, and intimidating, Hanks is never really convincing, always an aggrieved, A hostile widower who puts his grief over his wife’s death behind him. But you can sense how much fun he gets from fighting his popular image, and you’re happy to go for a ride. A man named Otto
Bottom Line Effectively tug at your heartstrings.
: Friday, December 13
: Tom Hanks, Mariana Trevino, Ray Chel Keller, Manuel García-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Mike Birberia
: Mark Foster screenwriter: David Magee
Rated PG-, 2 hours 6 minutes
Set in an unnamed Rust Belt town that has apparently seen better days (the film was shot in Pittsburgh), this American version of the director’s Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) closely watching its Swedish is in most respects senior. Otto, who was recently resigned from his engineering management job, spends his time mostly frowning and grunting at anyone who dares cross his path, and enforcing the rules of his gated community, which is represented by the dodgy kind of real estate control company (Mike Bill Villa, in a role that barely utilizes his comedic talents) would make a suitable villain in a Frank Capra film.
Yes, Otto is cranky, all right. He yelled at a young woman who let her dog urinate on his lawn, at a delivery truck driver who stopped without authorization, and at a neighbor exercising excessively in tight clothing Yelling and yelling at a stray cat that showed up at his house. He was even willing to spend his precious time arguing about being charged too many 30 cents at a major hardware store. He was exactly what onlookers described him as: “grumpy old bastard”. But we soon learn the reason for his desperation, which prompts him to attempt suicide several times, without success. He is childless and lonely, and his beloved wife Sonia recently passed away from cancer.
His humanity only emerges during his regular visits to her grave, where he makes it clear that he intends to join her soon. It’s also revealed in a series of flashbacks from his youth, in which young Otto (Tom’s son, Truman Hanks, bears a striking resemblance to his old man) meets Sonia (Rachel Keller, Appropriately likable) has an adorable encounter when he boards a train going in the wrong direction in order to return her dropped book. We see the couple move into the home that middle-aged Otto still lives in and befriend their neighbors before Sonya becomes pregnant and tragically loses the baby in a bus accident that leaves her sitting wheelchair.
As the film progresses, you’ll find yourself counting minutes until Otto regains his soul. It all starts to happen with the arrival of a young family from the neighborhood, including the scrappy, pregnant Marisol (Mariana Trevino, a breakout performance), her bumbling husband (Manuel García). -Rulfo, The Magnificent Seven) and their two young daughters. At first, Otto resists Marisol’s well-meaning friendly efforts, but he eventually finds himself dealing with his new neighbors involuntarily. You could feel his resistance melting as he took his first bite of the delicious home-cooked meal she sent him, though in his thank you note he could barely describe the food as “fun.” But before long, he was babysitting adorable puppies and teaching Marisol to drive.
Less convincing elements of the storyline include Otto becoming a social media sensation after filming rescuing an elderly man who fell on train tracks. That allowed him to capitalize on his newfound fame after the real estate company tried to evict his longtime neighbor with major health problems. It’s a completely unnecessary melodramatic device, as if writer David Magee didn’t believe the story of a distraught man coming back to life would carry enough emotional weight.
But it’s hard to mind too much, thanks to Hanks’ perfectly modulated, understated performance – when you feel Otto’s frost slowly start to melt He’s genuinely moving when he’s in the movie — and a welcome moment of comedy that eases the film’s rougher aspects. There’s a particularly good moment when Otto ends up in hospital after collapsing in the street, and Marisol is told sternly His heart was “too big.” Instead of sounding the alarm, she broke into hysterical laughter, a joke that Otto graciously understood perfectly.
While A Man Called Otto never quite gets past its obvious plot intrigue, luckily director Foster employs A rather restrained, subtle approach. The result is a film that you eventually find yourself giving in to, though you never stop realizing your heartstrings are being pulled shamelessly.
Production companies: Playtone, SF Studios, 2DUX², Columbia Pictures, Stage 6 Films, Artistic FilmsDistributor: Sony Pictures Releasing
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Trevino, Rachel Kay Le, Manuel García-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Mike Birberia
Director: Mark Foster Writer: David Magee
Producers: Fredrik Wikstrom Nicastro, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks , Gary Goetzman Executive Producers: Marc Forster, Renee Wolfe, Louise Rosner, David Magee, Michael Porseryd, Tim King, Sudie Smyth, Steven Shareshian, Celia Costas, Neda Backman, Tor Jonasson
Director of Photography: Matthias Keonigswieser
Production Design: Barbara Ling
Edit: Matt Chesse
Composer: Thomas Newman
Costume Designer: Frank F leming
Casting: Francine Messler, Molly Rose Rated PG-30, 2 hours 6 minutes
932604 THR Newsletter
Sign up for THR news daily straight to your inbox