A Man Called Otto’ Movie Review: Otto, the character in Marc Forster’s genial, sincere, but average dramedy “A Man Called Otto,” cannot 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 minor slip-up of a stranger. And he protests so loudly that they even match Larry David’s in a typical “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode.
Otto, portrayed by the adored Tom Hanks in a messy 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 six feet of rope when he only needed a little more than five?
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 visits him and brings him a bowl of home-cooked food.
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 son, Truman Hanks) was interested in engineering and 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 alternately painfully amusing scenes and just plain awkward. The above-mentioned new neighbors, Marisol (a joyful and scene-stealing Mariana Treviso, the very finest thing about the picture) and Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), frequently seek small favors from the surly Otto, are the main interruptions of our get-off-my-lawn guy.
There are also other residents 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 no one seemed to know what to do with for a while.
The enigma is that, at least until the movie’s second act, 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 even though he consistently rejects them.
Although Otto suffers from a rare cardiac condition, the story gains 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. Later, he gains further goodwill when he takes in Malcolm and develops a slow but enduring friendship with Marisol, a satisfying plot in an otherwise formulaic novel.
However, the most valuable message in Forster’s adaption 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 similar 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. Please forward this to your friends if you find it interesting. Techyember.com is the best place to find the latest and updated information about your favorite celebs.