Review: Otto-matically loved it: A Man Called Otto

Maggie Mein, Staff Writer

“A Man Called Otto” is a comedic drama that tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a widowed elderly man (Otto) and a young soon-to-be mother of two (Marisol). The two eccentric characters initially butt heads, but grow fond of one another as time passes. This sentimental film provides an exemplary combination of familial and self values, the importance of relationships, and wry humor. 

Starring Tom Hanks as Otto, A Man Called Otto tells the story of a cranky 63-year-old man who recently lost his beloved wife, Sonya. Having retired from his life’s work at a steel company, Otto contemplates suicide as he feels he no longer carries any meaning without his lifelong partner. A Man Called Otto highlights the richness of building lasting relationships through shadowing Otto as he slowly discovers a new sense of purpose in his life.

This dramatic comedy is directed by Marc Forster and built on a screenplay by David Magee. It is based on the Swedish novel “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, and is adapted from the book’s original film by Hannes Holm. Its recent movie title was altered to capture the American adaptation of the book, changing the protagonist’s name from Ove to Otto. 

Swedish author Fredrik Backman has written many other popular books such as “Bear Town,” “The Winners,”“My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry,” and others. He is widely respected and received the title of one of the New York Times Bestselling Authors. 

It’s difficult to resist lively main character Marisol and her unconditional love for her family and others, and Otto is no exception. While he begins as a stone-cold character, the way that Otto softens throughout the story shows his ability to evolve, solidifying a theme of positive change throughout the film. Another theme that draws viewers in is the generational gaps in Otto’s neighborhood, and how they are brought together by the shared need for human companionship. 

Comparing Tom Hanks’ performance in A Man Called Otto to his other movies, his satirical humor comes through in his ability to find hilarity in a dour story. He has received numerous awards for his acting: The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture in 1989, and The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Lead Performance in 2019. One of my personal favorites is Polar Express (2004), where Hanks stars as several different characters including the train conductor, Ebenezer Scrooge, Santa Claus, and others. This whimsical movie takes place in the North Pole, where a young boy begins his journey to understanding the richness in believing. Both Polar Express and A Man Called Otto depict Hanks’ ability to embody different characters while maintaining his own sarcastic humor, in which he demonstrates when embodying a sarcastic train conductor and (later on) Otto. 

A Man Called Otto is a sentimental movie that tells the story of the importance held in reaching out and forming lasting relationships. With a touch of humor, this Marc Forster drama proves to be a hit among all audiences, young and old.