The trailers don’t tell the entire story that audiences will witness when they sit down to see Tom Hanks play the titular character in the new film, A Man Called Otto (2022), directed by Marc Forster. Otto is a grump, and he seems determined to make everyone in his world behave the way he believes they should. His new neighbors, led by a strong-willed matriarch named Marisol (Mariana Treviño), are determined to break through his rough exterior. The element missing from this synopsis is the dark edge that turns this comedy into a bit of a darker one; Otto is determined to join his dead wife, sooner rather than later.
Hanks is usually going to give an incredible performance, and there is no exception to that concept here. He embraces the role of the grump with surprising ease, but he manages to play the heartache all the better. I really enjoy the chemistry with Otto and Marisol. Otto is a hard man to impress, and he seems to view most of the world as a bunch of idiots. He instantly sees that Marisol is no idiot, even though she has some personality traits that rub him the wrong way. Yet, it is this back and forth that truly makes this film a sheer joy to watch. A great sequence that happens takes place in his car, as Otto has demanded that he teach Marisol how to drive. The scene plays out, and his faith in her leads to a great monologue.
Elements of the story are told through flashbacks with a younger actor playing Otto. These moments are important when it comes to understanding why Otto is the way he is, and the decision the audience has witnessed him trying to make. However, the dark moments are often cut with comedy. It is an enjoyable emotional rollercoaster that Hanks is firmly in the driver’s seat of. This film is a remake of A Man Called Ove (2015) that I haven’t seen yet, but I hear it is even better than this one.
Fans of dark comedies will find this one to be quite exceptional. The performances and the story are immensely compelling, and the laughs come regularly enough. I was reminded of Harold and Maude (1971) by some of the scenes that are darker in tone. It was a strong enough film that it immediately jumped onto my Critics Association of Central Florida voting block. I’m looking forward to my second viewing, once it comes to theaters. I laughed and cried while watching A Man Called Otto, and it earned the Must See rating.