Hello internet. it’s Slick Dungeon here, back to review another movie. This time I watched Tom Hanks perform as a grumpy old man in the film A Man Called Otto. If having movie spoilers makes you want to yell at people for cutting through your driveway or shout at the young folks to get off your lawn, go watch the movie and come back here because there will be spoilers ahead.
A Man Called Otto stars Tom Hanks as the man in question and is adapted from the book A Man Called Ove. It’s billed as a comedy drama but the emphasis here is on drama over comedy. The story follows Otto, a widower, who (spoilers start here) is tired of life without his beloved wife and is ready to take his own life. He has a daily routine of making sure no one drives across the private street he lives on, shoveling his snow covered driveway, sorting through recycling bins and generally grouching at people. At the moment Otto first tries to end things, he’s interrupted by annoying neighbors who don’t seem to know how to park a trailer. Otto helps out and does it for them. This pattern keeps repeating in a number of ways as Otto, reluctantly, ends up helping others and getting closer to people. One incident even leads Otto to be thought of as a bit of a local hero. As this is happening, we get flashbacks of Otto’s life as a younger man. Truman Hanks takes on the younger role and does a fine job selling the part.
At the start of the film, it’s easy for the viewer to guess where it is going. The movie makes no attempt to mislead you, knowing we’ll all get more and more attached to Otto, who despite being a bit of a crank, is not judgmental towards others, has a kind heart, and has the core impulse to help others, even when less convenient for himself. By the end, it’s inevitable the whole audience will end up crying buckets of tears.
As usual, the acting from Tom Hanks is top notch and he’s compelling to watch, although with the distinct feeling we’ve seen something like this film before. While I would not give this film points for originality, I would say it is well constructed, and entertaining. There are a few lighthearted laughs but it is through and through a tearjerker drama.
I don’t see this being voted one of the best films for 2023 but I could see it garnering some awards for Tom Hanks, Truman Hanks, and Mariana Trevino who plays one of Otto’s neighbors, Marisol. In fact, I would say the best performance here, with subtle grace and dignity through the film is Trevino’s and I hope she gets some accolades from the industry for making what could have been a one note character, engaging, emotional and complex.
If you love dramas, if you love Tom Hanks performances, and if you don’t mind crying in an ugly way while watching a movie, this is a good one to go out and see. It’s not perfect but there is a lot to like here.