Based on the # 1 New York Times bestseller “A Man Called Ove,” A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grump who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans are interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door, and he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol. She challenges him to see life differently, leading to an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.
What We Thought:
Had I seen A Man Called Otto in 2022 it most likely would have made my Year in Review article. It’s a surprisingly funny and honest film about how we see life and what’s important in our lives. It might also be the best performance out of Tom Hanks in years and I’m shocked it wasn’t released sooner to get Hanks pushed for awards season. I’m not the biggest fan of his and even I’m surprised he’s not getting buzz for this. It 100% makes up for his Razzie level role in Elvis.
I have to admit that I have not seen the original film this is based on. I obviously can’t compare the two or tell you about their differences or similarities because of that. I’m sure each movie is different in terms of little things like car brands and character names, but the overall story I’m assuming is close. The original film is based on a book I never read either so I can’t tell you how close this American film version is to the book either.
As for this version, it’s not the movie I thought it was going to be based off of trailers. That’s a good thing. Trailers made it seem like a dark comedy with Hanks playing a “Get off my lawn”/Clint Eastwood type. He does in the beginning, but you understand why he is that way through other characters and flashbacks (which I’ll get to later). It has dark comedic elements because he wants to kill himself, but then it changes as we meet his new neighbors.
What I like best about the film is that once you meet these people and how Otto is forced into their lives you expect a happy ending/uplifting story. It goes that way, but it also doesn’t. That’s the key to the film, the ending is what you think it will be, but it doesn’t get there in the direction other movies would go. The ending although expected, is earned along the way and is more emotional because of it. People were in tears at the screening.
I think those emotions are earned because of the flashbacks. The flashbacks show how Otto meets his wife, their relationship and a huge trauma. It humanizes Otto which makes him relatable. The one dimensional character in the beginning who made sure all the cars had permits is now seen as the experienced man he is. He knows trauma. He knows emotion. He’s lived his life and the audience sees that life with his wife and younger self (played by Hanks’ son Truman) through the flashbacks.
The only thing keeping me from calling A Man Called Otto great is I didn’t love the new neighbor woman Marisol. She felt too stereotypical to me. When she was begging Otto to drive her to the hospital it just didn’t sit right. The performance, or maybe it was the character itself, was just a bit too on the nose for me. Other than that it’s a surprise film to me. Maybe having low expectations for it helped, but overall I quite liked it. I could see myself watching it again and I really enjoyed Hanks in the role.
Based upon the novel A Man Called Ove by:
And the film A Man Called Ove by: