Friday Film Review | "A Man Called Otto"
Otto Anderson is supposedly the mean old man in his neighborhood. He definitely isn’t polite or tactful.
But as played by Tom Hanks, he isn’t really nasty. He’s exacting.
You should respect “No Parking” signs, he says, cause they are there for a reason. You set a schedule, you follow it. And people should know how to parallel-park or drive with a stick shift, unless they’re some kind of idiot.
And since Otto is desolated by the recent death of his wife, and can see only one way out, he goes shopping at the hardware mart for the exact length of rope he needs.
However, Otto’s covert attempts at suicide are interrupted by a helpless new family in the neighborhood. He just can’t say No to Marisol, the immigrant wife with two cute kids, a third on the way, and an inept husband.
He also has to deal with a feral cat that wants a home; a transgender teen who needs support; and an estranged older friend being victimized by a real-estate corporation.
Can Otto dismiss these distractions, or will he find a surrogate family that gives him a reason to keep living? The answer isn’t hard to guess.
The story is based on a novel, and a 2015 Swedish film. Director Marc Forster is known for films like “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland.”
The movie slipped into theaters when we were busy with the Sundance Festival, but, ironically, the film is like a sweet, modest indie movie of old.
The universe of the story is small. Virtually the whole cast are unknown faces, likable but colorless—including Truman Hanks, son of Tom and Rita Wilson, playing the young Otto. Mexican actress Mariana Treviño, as Marisol, IS a match for Hanks, whose crustiness is a thin cover for a mixture of comic frustration and pathos.
But the star is almost miscast. Tom Hanks can’t be offensive for a second! It would have been interesting to see the picture with a lesser known, more off-putting actor.
“A Man Called Otto” is sentimental and predictable. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I can’t help but give it three-and-half hearts out of five.