You Might Not Want To Be A Man Called Otto’s Neighbor

The Stream: A little repetitive for a movie that’s 2 hours long and pretty predictable.

The Big Screen: Tom Hanks and Mariana Trevino make a pleasant on-screen duo.

The Final Bill: A warm family film that reminds us of the importance of community.

– Trip Fontaine
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: David Magee
Stars: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Rachel Keller, Truman Hanks
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language.
Runtime: 2 hours 6 minutes
Production Companies: Playtone, Sony Pictures Entertainment, SF Productions, STX Entertainment
Platform: In theaters January 13, 2023

Hey, Streamers! January seems to be the month where studios dump their leftovers and audiences have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for something worthwhile to watch. When I was not toiling away in the gym trying to stick to that New Year’s Resolution, I ventured to the box office to see if this Tom Hanks flick was worth the price of admission. Who doesn’t like a grumpy old man being grumpy for two hours, right?!?! Anyway, A Man Called Otto got my attention, and here’ how it went.

A Man Called Otto is a based on a book by Fredrik Backman titled A Man Called Ove, which was turned into a Swedish film of the same name in 2015. Here, Marc Forster directs Tom Hanks as Otto, a curmudgeonly widower, who is fed up with everything, his neighbors, his neighborhood, his life. Everyone is moving on as things change around Otto, and he’s making some drastic choices about his life. When new neighbors, Marisol (Mariana Trevino), Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and their children, move in across the street, Otto gets pulled into their orbit and maybe begins to see new possibilities in life. Does his cold heart start to melt? You tell me. Grouchy hijinks ensue.

Tom Hanks slips into grumpy, grandpa mode to play Otto. He’s pretty good as usual. There isn’t much to Otto except that he’s unpleasant and kind of like the “Karen” of his neighborhood. There is a palpable sadness to the character that Hanks portrays. It isn’t until Mariana Trevino’s Marisol engages with Otto that the movie starts to come alive. Trevino is a force of nature and such a warm and inviting presence. It is no wonder Otto can’t resist her. The rest of the ensemble also begins to gel as well and shows how a neighborhood become a tight community. The emotions of the movie get heightened and really pull the audience in.

The film is too long. It could probably be 15-20 minutes shorter. It gets repetitive and I don’t think that the repetition adds anything to the story. There are also flashback sequences throughout that show the life of Otto and his wife, Sonya, that are illuminating but become intrusive. It is interesting to note that Truman Hanks, Tom’s son, plays the young Otto in the flashbacks. While the flashbacks are necessary to support the emotional resonance of the movie, I could have used less of them.

S2S: Official Rating Scale

A Man Called Otto is a nice family movie. It shows how being neighborly can impact the lives of the community. While the story gets repetitive and is predictable, it does hit emotional highs that make the movie satisfying overall especially because of the performances of Tom Hanks and Mariana Trevino. This movie is not the kind of film that is necessary to be seen on the big screen, so I’d suggest checking it out when it comes to streaming. A handful of popcorn is enough for this one.