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a man called otto

★★★★★

starring: tom hanks, mariana trevino, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and cameron britten

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Otto is a grump who's given up on life following the loss of his wife and wants to end it all. When a young family moves in nearby, he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol, leading to a friendship that will turn his world around.

Based on the comical and moving # 1 New York Times bestseller, A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grumpy widower who is very set in his ways and is ready to end it all. When a lively young family moves in next door, he meets his match in quick-witted and very pregnant Marisol, leading to an unlikely friendship that will turn his world upside-down.

 

During the Christmas season our family, like many others, has a list of holiday classics that get us right into the spirit of the season. From Netflix Christmas rom-coms to The Muppets Christmas Carol and Home Alone, we get through a long list of holiday classics. But we always end with one film, on Christmas evening. It’s a Wonderful Life, my favourite Christmas classic, filled with heartbreaking humanity, community, and ultimately hope. It’s the kinda film this world needs. 

 

While A Man Called Otto probably won’t ever sit in the echelons of classic cinema It’s A Wonderful Life occupies, it has some similarities and echoes of that Christmas classic. An ode to the beauty and pain of our humanity anchored by a wonderful performance from Tom Hanks, A Man Called Otto is the movie that our world needs right now. 

 

A Man Called Otto has a bit of everything in it. It will make you laugh out loud - a lot. But, it will also make you weep. I cry quite easily in films, but I’ve never ever seen my mate cry in a movie before. He cried in this. It is truly moving - take tissues. 

 

But it never descends into some kinda sappy, sentimental thing. The central plot of the film is about a man, stricken by grief, who tries to end his life - multiple times. But people bring him back from the brink, people start to give him a fresh purpose in life. A Man Called Otto is a celebration and observation of life with the greatest joy, sadness, and laughter all wrapped up together. And it’s a celebration of true community, as the characters unselfishly give of themselves to one another. It's a beautiful sight to behold. 

 

A Man Called Otto has a superb ensemble cast which is lead beautifully by Tom Hanks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tom Hanks more of a grouch than in this film. But even in his grumpiest moments, he still manages to emulate a broken, loveable, vulnerability. That is a tough thing to pull off but he does it with such grace and unshakable likeability. 

 

An ode to the beauty and pain of our humanity anchored by a wonderful performance from Tom Hanks, A Man Called Otto is the movie that our world needs right now.

★★★★★

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