A Man Called Otto is a drama film with some comedic moments sprinkled in. It is based on a bestselling novel out of Sweden called A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. David Magee wrote the screenplay while Marc Forster served as director. Tom Hanks plays the grieving, curmudgeon, Otto Anderson, a retired engineer and the neighborhood enforcer of the now defunct HOA rules. The other cast members include Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rufo, Rachel Keller, and Truman Hanks. Truman Hanks is the son of the elder Tom and plays a younger version of Otto in some flashback scenes.
Otto Anderson recently lost his wife to cancer and has become rather surly, which is understandable. He does his best to enforce the rules of the neighborhood, which is the midst of some kind of redevelopment. He meets his new neighbors and is especially perturbed by the pregnant immigrant wife, who seemingly can’t take a hint. Otto just wants to be left in peace so he can finally be at peace with his deceased wife, however the neighbors keep unwittingly saving his life. He ends up adopting a cat, teaching the pregnant neighbor how to drive, and going against the real estate developers to help a former friend.
Tom Hanks does exude his usual charm and talent in making this piece fairly enjoyable, although there are some heavy topics. The suicide attempts are somewhat disturbing and almost graphic. There are times that the story feels pretty predictable. The performances are pretty solid throughout. There was some witty dialogue peppering the script. However, there were also some clunky moments such as when Otto tries to walk back a somewhat politically incorrect accusation aimed at a delivery driver.
I think it’s great when the actor’s offspring gets to play the younger version of their parent’s character. Truman Hanks does a competent job of portraying the younger Otto as the audience gets to see how he and his beloved wife meet and the troubles they faced in their long marriage. I am not sure if his talent will be on par with his father’s, but he did well enough in this particular role.
Otto’s tragic past and his suicidal tendencies does make for a heavy load at times and is at stark odds with some of the more comedic moments. Still, I found some enjoyment out of some of Otto’s verbal sparring matches. Hanks continues to display his usual reliable charm even if the character is meant to be anything but charming.
Anyway, it’s a pretty good movie in spite of a few missteps in the writing.