Friday, January 20, 2023

‘A Man Called Otto’ shows you matter more than you think

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Runtime 2 hours, 6 minutes

At first glance, Otto Anderson is someone you would most likely want to avoid; yelling, barking orders, going off about why people are stupid – not the friendliest guy in the world. But, if you took the time to get know Otto, you would see he can actually be a nice guy. A nice guy who is having a hard time and is unwilling, or unsure, of how to let people in.

When Otto gets new neighbors, Marisol and family, she doesn’t let his curmudgeonly ways stop her from becoming a part of his life. While this movie deals with some tougher subject matter than I was expecting, I really enjoyed it.

“A Man Called Otto” stars Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Truman Hanks, Juanita Jennings, Peter Lawson Jones, Mack Bayda, Cameron Britton, Kailey Hyman, Christiana Montoya, Alessandra Perez, Rachel Keller, and Mike Birbiglia.

Otto (Tom Hanks) is angry; angry people ask him stupid questions and do stupid things. He’s constantly yelling at the people in his apartment complex to keep their pets off his sidewalk or at delivery drivers who park to drop off packages.

While in the middle of something, Otto sees Marisol (Treviño) and her family moving in across the way. He is less than thrilled, especially when he sees her husband Tommy’s (Garcia-Rulfo) inability to back his trailer up to the curb.

He says to Tommy that a dog with one front paw and cataracts can back up a trailer. Otto does help them or rather demands that Tommy let him back up the trailer. Once he gets in their car Otto meets Marisol’s children, Luna (Montoya) and Abbie (Perez).

Otto is lonely. Every so often you get flashbacks to how young Otto (Truman Hanks) met his wife, Sonya (Keller).

His wife recently died, and he visits her grave often to talk. He says to her nothing works when you’re not at home. This loneliness has caused him to take some drastic measures several times.

Meanwhile, Dye & Merica Real Estate Agent (Birbiglia) is trying to oust its residents.

When Otto meets a former student of Sonya’s, Malcom (Bayda), who says Sonya was the only person who treated him with kindness after he came out as transgender, this sparks a friendship.

Despite his apparent disdain for much of humanity, people are drawn to Otto, whether he likes it or not.

Otto just wants to be reunited with his wife, but life gets in the way. He continues to help Marisol and her family. He babysits for them and even teaches Marisol to drive.

You get more glimpses into his early life with Sonya. Otto says his life was black and white before he met her, she was the color.

When Marisol offers to help him clear out some of Sonya’s things, he loses it on her, and she expects the worst and afterward demands to know why.

Marisol says to Otto no one can do it all on their own.

Tom Hanks is an American treasure. Even as a guy who has had it with life, Hanks gives an outstanding performance. So does his son, Truman, as a younger version of Otto. This movie is heartfelt, funny, sad, but engaging – I wanted to know more about Otto’s life with Sonya.

Fair warning this movie might evoke a tear or two – whether through laughter or sadness. It carries an important message that no person is an island; you don’t get an award at the end of your life if you never asked for help. I highly recommend seeing this in the theater. Don’t wait – it’s just too good.

Two 1964 silver quarters up.

Now playing in theaters.<

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