A MAN CALLED OTTO – A Review by Cynthia Flores

A MAN CALLED OTTO – A Review by Cynthia Flores

‘I went into this screening for the new Marc Forster film with an attitude. I am a massive fan of the original 2015 Swedish Oscar-nominated film A Man Called Ove, which this film has been remade into English from. Usually, remakes of hit foreign language films are hit and miss, mostly miss. However, this time I was pleasantly surprised that it worked. The new American version of the story A Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks, is not a scene-by-scene rip-off of the original but something of its own. The Swedish film was hilarious as well as touching. Director Marc Forster seems to have gone with the story’s darker side and the loss behind Otto’s need to kill himself. There are still some funny moments throughout the movie, but they support the bittersweet memories of Otto and his wife. 

A Man called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks). He is a grumpy old man. Following his forced retirement and the loss of his beloved wife, Sonya (Rachel Keller), he no longer sees purpose in his life. Otto is ready to end it all, but his well-thought-out plans are interrupted when a young immigrant family moves into the cul de sac. Otto meets his match in quick-witted and very pregnant Marisol (Mariana Treviño). Otto also shows a tender side with her two young daughters. Marisol feeds him homemade goodies as she challenges him to see life differently. The two form an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. Showing that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected of places.  

The film shows director Marc Forster’s special touch with stories revolving around odd relationships, such as his 2001 break-out film Monster’s Ball. So the scenes Otto has with Marisol, or the flashback moments with a young Otto (played by Tom’s actual son Truman Hanks) and his wife, are endearing. They have a tenderness and ring of truth that the director can bring out of his actors. My main issue is that Tom Hanks is never genuinely believable as a grumpy old “Get off my lawn” kind of guy. In fact, Mariana Treviño as Marisol steals the show anytime she is on screen. 

Overall, The English language A Man Called Otto won me over by creating its own thing from its source material. But, of course, comparisons are inevitable. That said, the Swedish film is hands down the best version of this simple story. But, the new American version will find an audience that has never seen the original and does not know what they are missing. 

I give A Man Called Otto 4 stars. It’s a sweet and tender film about love, loss, and life that will kick off the new year nicely. So be sure to take your mom and dad or grandmother and grandfather to the theater with you to enjoy this new Tom Hanks film.


Directed by: Marc Forster

Written by: David Magee, (novel) Hannes Holm

Rated: PG-13

Selig Rating: 4 Stars

Running Time: 2hr 6min

Drama / Comedy

Wide Release: Only in theaters January 6th

Starring: Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Mike Birbiglia


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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