America’s favorite everyman Tom Hanks is a grumpy old man in need of human connection in A Man Called Otto, a charming crowd-pleaser even though we’re deprived of Hanks yelling “Get off my lawn!”, which seems like a missed opportunity.
One of the most beloved actors in the world, Hanks plays a neighborhood grouch on the verge of suicide in A Man Called Otto, a remake of the acclaimed 2015 Swedish movie based on the bestselling novel A Man Called Ove. Following the death of his wife and forced retirement by his employer, Otto is ready to call it a life. But it’s the arrival of a boisterous Mexican family into his neighborhood that begins to remind Otto that there are still some things worth living for.
It’s the kind of role Hanks can do in his sleep. Our natural inclination is to root for Hanks no matter what he’s doing. He’s the father figure we always wanted, the uncle who gives us sage advice, and the best friend when we need it most. Even when being an old grump, Hanks is imminently likable, and his big personality quickly becomes the film’s lifeblood when it starts to feel too lightweight. Hanks shares hilarious banter with scene-stealing actress Mariana Treviño, who plays pregnant neighbor Marisol.
Treviño gives as good as she gets opposite Hanks, and it wouldn’t be a shock to find both in the Oscars race for their performances.
Behind the camera is director Marc Forster, working from a script by David Magee. The two previously worked together on Finding Neverland, and have a knack for stories about the power of family, both the one we’re born with and those we build around us. Even though the story doesn’t fit culturally as well here in America as it does in Sweden, A Man Called Otto is heartwarming and surprisingly rich, with Hanks proving once again that he can always win us over, even when he’s trying hard not to.
A Man Called Otto is in theaters now.