“A Man Called Otto” is the most heartwarming film of the year


Photo via Columbia Pictures

“A Man Called Otto,” starring Tom Hanks, was released to theaters Jan. 13.

Tom Hanks is an actor I have had a connection with from childhood. 

I grew up watching the “Toy Story” series and “The Polar Express,” and my mom raised me on the films “Castaway,” “Forrest Gump” and “Big.” Watching him on the screen gives me comfort. I was front and center in the theater for the opening night of “A Man Called Otto” on Jan. 13. 

The film is an adaptation of the novel “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, which centers around who one could call the grumpiest man in America. Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) is an angry old man who needs everything to be done his way. But, when new neighbors (Mariana Treviño and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) move in across the street, he finds himself in an untimely friendship that will change his world for the better.

This is hard to admit, but my first thought of Otto’s personality was that I agreed with the majority of his concerns. Sure, he handles them in a rather rude way, but his particularity had to do with properly disposing of trash and recycling, and people riding their cars directly into his neighbor’s yards. 

The entirety of the movie made my heart melt. Near the start of the film, when viewers found out something Otto was deeply struggling with, I immediately felt empathetic toward him. If the writers of the film and original novel had the goal of making me susceptible to excusing every slightly rude elderly person for the rest of my life, they overachieved. The entrance of the unnamed cat made me crumple into a ball even more, and seeing Otto and the cat slowly become best friends tore me to pieces. 

Responding to the backlash he received from his performance in “Elvis,” Hanks definitely redeemed himself. There were some scenes involving difficult topics and he handled them wonderfully. Other notable performances came from Treviño and Hanks’ own son, Truman Hanks, who played Otto’s younger self. Every aspect of this film revolves around family and the importance of being around others – even the cast. 

Sure, some cinematography aspects and jokes could have landed better, but I recognize that the target audience is most likely people older than my mother, and I simply couldn’t focus on those specifics. The theater was filled with people over the age of 50, if that says anything. Laughs to cheesy jokes were over-exaggerated by the people surrounding me, but it just made me even more happy and comforted in the theater. 

If you are anywhere near as emotional as I am, the end will break you. I am not a movie-cryer, but that was the closest I have been to shedding a tear in front of a screen since “Beautiful Boy.” 

I’m not sure if it is because of my love for Tom Hanks, my apparent relatability to Otto’s personality or the actual film production, but I adored this movie.

While it may not be directly next to “Catch Me if You Can,” add “A Man Called Otto” to your list of successful Tom Hanks movies.