A Man Called Otto is a 2022 comedy-drama film directed by Marc Foster from a screenplay by David Magee. It is the second film adaptation of the 2012 novel A Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and an American remake of the 2015 Swedish film of the same name written and directed by Hannes Holm. The film stars Tom Hanks, Marinana Trevino, Rachel Keller, and Manuel Garcia-Ruflo.
Otto Anderson, a 63 year old widowe, lives in Suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After retiring from a steel company, he plans suicide, having lost his wife Sonya, a schoolteacher, six months before.
During a suicide attempt by hanging, he is interrutedby his new neighbors: Marisol, Tommy, and their two daughters, Abby and Luna. Ottos has flashbacks to his past: years before, he tried to enlist in the army, but was unable to having hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. he meets Sonya on a train after giving her back a book she had dropped.
Otto attempts suicide again, this time via carbon monoxide poisoning. He has another flashback of him having dinner with Sonya, telling her that he is not enlisted in the army due to his heart condition and doesn’t have a job, making Sonya kiss him. Marisol interrupts Otto’s suicide attempt, asking him to her and the kids to the hospital after Tommy falls off a ladder and breaks his leg.
Otto has a flashback to his graduation with an engineering degree, when he asks Sonya to marry him. During a suicide attempt by train, an old man faints and falls on the railroad tracks. Otto saves the man and the good deed becomes a viral video. Otto then takes in a stray cat, which he had found to be a nuisance. Otto takes Marisol for a driving lesson and they go to Sonya’s favorite bakery, which the couple had gone to every weekend. There. he tells her about his friendship with a guy named Reuben, the two having worked together to set up rules, with Otto as chairman of the neighborhood association. The two grow apart after Reuben’s preference for Fords and Toyotas over Otto’s Chevrolets and the “coup” of replacing Otto as chairman. Reuben, who suffered a stroke, is now confined to a wheelchair and is cared for by his wife Anita and neighbor Jimmy.
After dodging a social media Journalist named Shari Kenzie who is trying to interview Otto for his brave act in the viral video, he gets mad at both Marisol and a Dye & Merika real estate agent, not wanting to accept Sonya’s death. He tries to kill himself with a shotgun, but is interrupted by Malcolm, a local transgender teen Otto has befriended, who asks to spend the night after his father kicks him out.
Ottos learns that Dye & Merika is planning to force Reuben into a nursing home and take their house, after illegally finding out that Anita has Parkinson’s disease. Otto agrees to help Anita and Reuben. After having a heating fight with Dye & Merika, Otto was voted out of chairmanship after the neighborhood is not accessible to Sonya after a tragic accident leaves her paralyzed and she has a miscarriage. Otto and other neighbors come together with Shari Kenzie to take down Dye & Merika to force them to not buy over the neighborhood.
The character of Otto at times resembles Larry David’s character in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Otto starts out like Ebeneezer Scrooge, very grumpy, never happy. Eventually, his neighbors turn him back into the fun, funny, caring man he used to be when his Sonya was still alive. They show him how to live again. He starts out so bitter and cheap, he has his electric, phone, and cable turned off. He doesn’t own a cellphone or a fancy car. He is very unhappy, as he is lonely, retired, has no friends, or close family, and nothing excites him anymore without his wife. He tries several times to kill himself but he thankfully gets interrupted every time. His neighbors and new friends show him that suicide is not the answer.
This film is pretty slow for a good portion of its runtime. Parts are laugh out loud funny, there are also heartwarming and cute scenes. There are also some very tragic moments as well. Tom Hanks is great as Otto Anderson, but that doesn’t make this movie any better. It is good at best. The Swedish version, A Man Called Ove is better, but still not great either. Both are of a man who loses the love of his life and becomes big grump, a constant eye roll, middle finger to anything that bothers them or that is remotely positive. Both men learn there is more to life and they also learn how accept the death of a loved on and move on.
This film will likely not be winning any awards, except maybe Hanks. Scrooge type characters have been done to death. The story of a once bitter person becoming kind hearted again, that too has been done too many times. Yes, the Swedish version is better and the book is good, but overall the entire story is far too similar to many others. The sad, sad, happy, sad pattern is not original either. Had this story had something more intense than a real estate company trying to take over a neighborhood, it maight have been more enjoyable. Overall, I found myself rather bored and depressed for most of this movie. There were times I found myself laughing and smiling and some parts really warmed my heart, but those parts are so few.
I’m glad Otto became a better man again, but his Grinch-like attitude was dragged out for too long. I wanted to like this movie, but I found it rather boring and unoriginal. Another crankypants, get of my lawn character, though well acted, was just wasted talent. This film is just a stretched out waste of time with a pretty bow tied around it for the most part, until the tragedy comes. Sweet and sad story, but not an entertaining movie much at all. 3/5 13+