Tom Hanks will make you laugh and cry as he plays a curmudgeon with a heart
The trailers don’t come close to doing justice to “A Man Called Otto.”
At first glance, you might think this is simply a comedy about a curmudgeon, but “A Man Called Otto” is more than that. The heart of the movie is that every person needs others in their life.
And the message is as you accept kindness from others, you can’t help but give it back in return.
“A Man Called Otto” also deals honestly with one man’s pain with losing his wife, his anchor through the best and worst of times. And that’s what turns this man, Otto, played brilliantly by Tom Hanks, into a grumpy, unfriendly guy.
Otto’s wife, a schoolteacher who inspired others and inspired Otto as well, died from cancer. Otto is uncertain he has any reason to live. So he doesn’t feel especially cheerful when his new neighbor, Marisol (Mariana Trevino), knocks on his door and insists that she and her husband and daughters be part of Otto’s life.
Otto needs them. They need Otto. And because of Marisol’s sheer tenacity and despite Otto’s initial resistance, a friendship begins.
Ms. Trevino is brilliant in playing the dynamic, friendly Marisol, who contrasts well with Mr. Hanks’ Otto.
And Mr. Hanks’ 27-year-old son Truman does a great job of playing Otto at a younger age in flashbacks, showing how Otto met his wife, Sonya. Truman Hanks is able to make his version Otto similar to his father’s version yet different in terms of maturity. You can see how young Otto became the older Otto and the positive impact Sonya had on Otto. The actress playing Sonya, Rachel Keller, accomplishes that with honesty, a sincere smile and humor.
The acting is complemented by director Marc Forster’s approach of simply letting the story evolve naturally and at just the right pace. Likewise, David Magee has produced a funny and poignant screenplay adaptation of the 2012 novel “A Man Called Ove” by Frederik Bachman. The book was also adapted by Hannes Holm for the 2015 film “A Man Called Ove.”
“A Man Called Otto” will make you laugh. Mr. Hanks, Ms. Keller and Ms. Trevino all have great timing. But more than that, Mr. Hanks takes this grumpy guy and makes you root for him, makes you care for him.
Bring tissue; you will need it.