Marc Forster’s “A Man Called Otto” is a dramedy that features the titular character, Otto, who is a grumpy and easily annoyed man living in a suburban neighborhood in the Midwest. He has a tendency to protest about even the smallest things and his outbursts rival those of Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Tom Hanks brings to life Otto in a performance that is both quirky and grounded. Although Otto is often right about his grievances, he could perhaps be a bit more polite, especially towards his new, pregnant neighbor.
The film starts with flashbacks that show us a young and socially awkward Otto, who is portrayed by Truman Hanks, Tom Hanks’ son. He had a passion for engineering and his life changed when he met his future wife, Sonya, played by Rachel Keller. Sadly, Sonya has since passed away, and Otto has been trying to join her by attempting suicide, but is constantly interrupted by his new neighbors.
The new neighbors, Marisol and Tommy, are a happily married couple with kids, who keep asking for favors from Otto. There are also other characters in the neighborhood such as a transgender teenager, Malcolm, an old friend, Reuben, and his wife, Anita, who are no longer on good terms with Otto. Despite his rude behavior, all the characters treat Otto with patience and acceptance, and it is never fully explained why they persist in their attempts to be friendly with him.
Throughout the film, Otto starts to let his guard down and begins to make amends, especially after suffering a heart condition. He becomes a local hero after saving someone’s life in front of a group of unhelpful onlookers and also builds a friendship with Marisol, which is one of the most rewarding storylines in an otherwise predictable film.
One of the strengths of Forster’s adaptation is its message about the importance of everyday people working together as a community to fight against corporations that don’t care about them. Although “A Man Called Otto” is not as philosophical as “About Schmidt” or as socially conscious as “I, Daniel Blake,” it still has a wholesome and crowd-pleasing quality that makes it a good choice for a family gathering.
However, the film is not without its flaws. Some of the supporting characters are underdeveloped and the story lacks the emotional depth that was present in the original Swedish film, “A Man Called Ove.” Additionally, some of the comedic moments fall flat and the visual effects in the flashbacks are often over-the-top.
Despite these drawbacks, “A Man Called Otto” is still a watchable film that will appeal to fans of dramedies and Tom Hanks. The film’s central message about the importance of community is relevant and timely, and it’s always nice to see Tom Hanks in a new role.
In conclusion, “A Man Called Otto” is a well-intentioned but flawed film that tries to capture the spirit of the original Swedish film, “A Man Called Ove.” Although it’s not as good as the original, it still has some charm and a worthwhile message that makes it worth checking out. If you’re a fan of Tom Hanks and dramedies, then this film is definitely worth your time.
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