Genre: Drama
Director: Marc Forster
Cast: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cameron Britton, Mack Bayda, Juanita Jennings, Peter Lawson Jones, Kelly Lamor Wilson, Truman Hanks
Runtime: 2 hr 6 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Mature Content)
Released By: Sony Pictures
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 23 March 2023

Synopsis: Based on the comical and moving #1 New York Times bestseller, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grumpy widower who is very set in his ways. When a lively young family moves in next door, he meets his match in quick-witted and very pregnant Marisol, leading to an unlikely friendship that will turn his world upside-down. Experience a funny, heartwarming story about how some families come from the most unexpected places. 

Movie Review:

Tom Hanks has been dubbed “America’s dad” largely due to his wholesome onscreen appearances and likeable charisma. Yet in his second “unlikeable” role after Elvis, he plays the grumpiest man in America named Otto.

Adapted from a 2015 Swedish movie which in turn was adapted from a 2012 novel by Fredrik Backman, Hanks plays a recent widower, Otto who possesses strict routines and principles and patrols his small neighbourhood on a daily basis. For example, correcting the neighbours’ recycling habits, making sure the UPS truck driver does not park on the road again and giving lectures to a young woman and her dog.

Despite the fact that Otto is easily ruffled and grumpy, he is trying his very best to end his life (which explains the local rating of NC16 for mature content) so that he can reunite with his late wife again. First he tries to hang himself, then by inhaling carbon monoxide from exhaust fumes, he even tries to kill himself by stepping into an incoming train.

None actually works according to his plans. And meantime, dear old Otto starts to warm up to a gusty Mexican woman, Marisol (Mariana Trevino), her fumbling hubby and two daughters who have just moved into the unit opposite his.

A Man Called Otto is a tragic sad story filed with moments of light-heartedness. It reminds one heavily of Pixar’s Up. You know the Pete Docter’s animation where an equally grumpy widower, Carl Fredricksen who lost his beloved wife and befriend a young explorer and they set off to an adventure together? Otto is somewhat similar only minus the floating house, boy scout and suicide thoughts.

It’s truthfully kind of despairing, but director Marc Foster and writer, David Magee (Finding Neverland) manages to find enough warmth and sunshine among the darkness to tell a tale of wholesomeness and pure goodness. Via flashbacks where a younger Otto is played by Hanks’ real-life son, Truman, we learnt more about the love between Otto and his wife, Sonya. How they first met, how they support each other despite their differences which led to why Otto misses his wife so much.

There’s also a brief flashback that tells how Otto falls out with fellow neighbours, Anita and Reuben, though it’s more of a setup for a confrontation with an evil real estate company representative in the finale. Still, the bulk of the movie lies in the relationship between Otto and Marisol which is very believable and genuinely heart-warming by the way. Otto’s rather harsh way of motivating Marisol how to drive a car is the highlight of the movie.

Mexican star Mariana Trevino is absolutely a tour de force, never for a moment she is outshined by the brilliant Tom Hanks. The two worked out such a sizzling chemistry that you truly believe in their friendship in the end. Although Otto is cranky and ill-tempered, he is still a “nice guy” deep down. In other words, Hanks still plays America’s dad perfectly, always reliable, always a delight to watch.

Movie Rating:





(An infectious, sentimental movie featuring likeable performances from Hanks and Trevino)

Review by Linus Tee


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