“A Man Called Otto” Movie Review

Story posted January 24, 2023 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Isabel Sweet

*This article contains topics of suicide that could be triggering. Read at your own discretion.*

“A Man Called Otto” is a comedy/drama about a typical grumpy, old man. Otto (Tom Hanks) is a widow who lives in a small gated community with many other people. He is the typical “get off my lawn” guy that enforces every small rule.

Directed by Marc Forster, the film revolves around a suicidal Otto. He’s lost his wife, his job, and his will to live. Throughout the movie, he makes various attempts to end his life including by hanging and gunshot. However, each attempt is interrupted by his helpless new neighbors.

A young, Hispanic family moved in across the street and Otto is annoyed by them…at first. The husband, Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is accident prone and Otto always has to help with his manual labor. Marisol (Mariana Treviño), the pregnant wife, then thanks Otto by making him some of her family’s traditional foods.

Sometimes Otto would even play with their two young girls. This cycle continues for quite a while.

In addition to these neighbors, Otto’s friends, Reuben (Peter Lawson Jones) and Anita (Juanita Jennings) live next door and are currently struggling with different health problems, which wrongly gets their estranged son involved. There’s also Malcolm (Mack Bayda)– a trans teen that Otto takes under his wing– and a cheery Jimmy (Cameron Britton).

Otto’s main problem is to keep corporate businesses from buying up the community. The Dye and Merica company sends people in daily and deceives the elderly residents, taking their houses away from them.

Otto, of course, has other ideas and does all he can to save his community and his friends.

As the film progresses, Otto begins to be more sympathetic toward all of his friends and develops a close relationship with the young couple and their children. In one scene Otto even saves a man’s life after he falls onto the tracks.

This attracts a lot of attention, especially from social media influencer, Shari Kenzie (Kelly Lamor Wilson).

Though we soon learn that there are other things going on in Otto’s life, shown through flashbacks. Little by little, we learn more about Otto and his wife, Sonya (Rachel Keller).

We learn how their relationship has truly shaped who he is and why it’s so hard for him to let go.

The way the flashbacks were blended with the main plotline was flawless. Each was always relevant to what was going on in the present time and revealed why Otto acted the way he did.

They were able to give just enough information without spoiling anything.

This film is based on the Swedish novel, En man som heter Ove by Fredrik Backman.

Additionally, there was a Swedish movie adaptation titled, “A Man Called Ove” starring Rolf Lassgård in 2015. Another fun fact about “A Man Called Otto” is that during flashbacks, young Otto is played by Tom Hanks’ son Truman Hanks.

The cast was chosen very well. The chemistry between characters and the way each character was portrayed made the movie all that more enjoyable, particularly Otto and Marisol’s relationship.

Overall, the movie was a great watch. Tom Hanks’ portrayal of a crabby old man was a perfect fit for this film. Next trip to the theater, go check it out!

Rating: 3.5/5

Isabel Sweet is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email ips5219@psu.edu.