A Man Called Otto IMDB: Otto, the title character in Marc Forster’s genial, sincere, but average dramedy “A Man Called Otto,” is unable to choose his daily fights, even if his life depended on it. The elderly man, who lives in an uninteresting suburban community of identical row houses somewhere in the Midwest, is easily irritated by any small slip-up by a stranger. And he protests so loudly that they even match Larry David’s in a typical “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode.
Otto, who is portrayed by the adored Tom Hanks in a muddled performance that veers between goofy and realistic, is frequently correct in his complaints, which is to his credit. Why, for instance, should he spend money on 6 feet of rope and squander a few additional cents when he just purchased a little more than 5?
Why shouldn’t he issue warnings to careless motorists who frequently block garage doors or too spoiled neighbors who can’t even be bothered to remember to latch a gate or follow simple laws for trash disposal? Or raise a stink when the soulless real estate thugs from the fictitious, brilliantly titled “Dye & Merica” arrive to disrupt the calm in the neighborhood?
However, not everything is as terrible as Otto portrays it to be. And he might be able to afford to use some manners himself, especially when a new, heavily pregnant neighbor pays him a visit and brings him a bowl of home-cooked food.
A Man Called Otto IMDB
You already know that Otto hasn’t always been this annoying if you’ve seen Hannes Holm’s Oscar-nominated Swedish hit “A Man Called Ove” from 2015, which is neither better nor worse than this middle-of-the-road American remake (yes, not all originals are automatically better).
Forster and nimble screenwriter David Magee reveal that he was socially inept even as a child, but at least kind and approachable, through sparse amounts of sugary and overdone flashbacks. Young Otto (played by the star’s own son, Truman Hanks) had an interest in engineering and in understanding how things worked. He had a bluntly unstylish side-part haircut that correctly gives off a “kind but unworldly guy” vibe.
His chance encounter with the dreamy Sonya (Rachel Keller), who later became his wife and recently died away, is said to have revolutionized his life.
Otto is eager to join his wife on the other side, just like in “Ove,” but his repeated suicide attempts are thwarted in scenes that are alternately painfully amusing and just plain awkward. The above-mentioned new neighbors, Marisol (a joyful and scene-stealing Mariana Trevio, the very finest thing about the picture) and Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), who frequently seek small favors from the surly Otto, are the main interruptions of our get-off-my-lawn guy.
Additionally, there are others in the area, including Malcolm (Mack Bayda), a kind transgender teen who was kicked out of his home by his father, Jimmy (Cameron Britton), a fitness freak, and Rueben (Peter Lawson Jones), and Anita (Juanita Jennings), an old friend of Otto’s with whom he is no longer on friendly terms. Not to mention the stray cat that for a while no one seemed to know what to do with.
The enigma is that, at least until the second act of the movie, none of the supporting characters in this story can guess anything about Otto. Instead, everyone else treats Otto with tolerance and acceptance, as if he weren’t purposefully being impolite to them at every opportunity.
For instance, it is unclear why Otto’s coworkers bother to organize a retirement party given that it would undoubtedly go unrecognized or why Marisol insists on making sincere efforts to make Otto likable despite the fact that he consistently rejects them.
Although Otto is suffering from a rare cardiac condition, the story manages to gain some charm when he eventually lets down and begins making all the necessary reparations. He unintentionally saves someone’s life in front of a crowd of unhelpful people who are too focused on their phones before becoming a local hero. In a plot that would normally be expected, he gains more goodwill later on when he takes in Malcolm and develops a slow but steady bond with Marisol.
The most valuable message in Forster’s adaption, however, is about the little victories of regular people who work together as a cohesive society to combat the crimes of faceless corporations. In comparison to “About Schmidt” and “I, Daniel Blake,” two movies that occasionally hit comparable themes, “A Man Called Otto” isn’t quite as cerebral or as socially sensitive. However, it still makes for a healthy crowd-pleaser at your next family get-together.
Limited distribution today; general release on January 13.