A Man Called Otto: Tom Hanks Is Oscar-Worthy

Mariana Treviño and Tom Hanks star in Columbia Pictures'A MAN CALLED OTTO. Photo by Niko Tavernise.

Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks turns in an Oscar-worthy performance in the new English-language remake, A Man Called Otto.

A Man Called Otto features numerous suicide attempts.

Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) is in something of a rut. Since the passing of his wife, Sonya (Rachel Keller), he’s become the grumpiest man on the block. He’s very set in his ways and you’re in for it when you put something in the wrong place. Not only this but he keeps trying to kill himself only for every attempt to go wrong. When a new family moves in across the street, they change the status quo. It also means that Otto finally has purpose in his life as Marisol (Mariana Treviño) befriends him. Sure, they’re off to a rocky start at first but they get to know each other. It’s one of those predictable friendships that happens in the movies but you can’t help but root for everyone but the bad guys.

Even when he’s playing the grumpiest man alive, Hanks elevates the work of his scene partners. You can’t help but either laugh or cry. When a trans kid doesn’t have a place to stay, Otto welcomes him into his home. Of course, this comes after another failed suicide attempt. I know suicide is very terrible and there’s nothing funny about the subject but I couldn’t help but laugh when every attempt ends up in failure. One of them ends up becoming a viral sensation after saving a man’s life after falling onto the train tracks! That’s the thing about watching Tom Hanks. He’s able to make us laugh during the worst of circumstances. I’m glad to see him doing another comedy even if this one walks a fine line between comedy and drama.

Where the film focuses on connection and finding community, it also focuses on letting go of the past. Otto is struggling with his wife’s death. One can’t help but empathize with what he’s going through. But still, will he be able to let go of the past and move forward? Even though the film is based on a Swedish book, David Magee’s screenplay is very American in nature.

It’s a family affair for the Hanks family. Rita Wilson is amongst the producers and even writes a song for the soundtrack, “Til You’re Home.” Stepping into play the role of the younger Otto is Truman Hanks. Truman isn’t an actor but he looks similar to Tom at that age.

I did not read the source material or see the original film adaptation. However, I did not have a dry eye by the end of the film. That’s right. If you’re anything like me, you should make sure to have some Kleenex on hand. I’m sorry for not warning my New York and Los Angeles readers in time but I needed a good month to write my review. Sony sent an awards screener on December 8, one day before the Critics Choice Awards film nomination ballots were due.

A Man Called Otto will make audiences laugh and cry but the film features another masterclass in acting from Tom Hanks.

DIRECTOR: Marc Forster
CAST: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, and Mike Birbiglia

Columbia released A Man Called Otto in theaters on December 30, 2022. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.