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REVIEW: Tom Hanks brings extra warmth to a film about love

February 15th, 2023 11:26 AM

By Dylan Mangan

REVIEW: Tom Hanks brings extra warmth to a film about love Image
Tom Hanks stars as Otto.

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A MAN Called Otto follows — surprisingly — a man called Otto, who has become depressed following the death of his wife.

As we meet him at the start of the film we learn that he is two things: angry at the world, and the most 'get off my lawn' a person can be.

Everything has to be right.

Why should he pay slightly extra for 6 feet of rope when he's getting 5.5? Why can't his neighbours put cans in the correct recycling bin?

Otto is a family-friendly Larry David.

He wants to join his wife but gets interrupted. First by the arrival of new neighbours who can't park their car correctly, and again later by the same people dropping some food off as a hello.

What follows is a relatively unremarkable, yet heartwarming film about the power of friendship and love, a tale of letting yourself live.

A Man Called Otto is straightforward, cheesy and predictable, but still ends up being full of emotion thanks to two performances: Tom Hanks as Otto and Mariana Treviño as Marisol, the new 'annoying' neighbour.

Marisol's love of life and the people in it are a nice tonic to Otto's grumpiness, and Treviño's energy brings a much-needed burst to a film which meanders along.

It's a film that exists solely as a Tom Hanks vehicle, which can raise some questions as to the purpose of the film.

It's based on a Swedish book that was already made into a middling Swedish film, so why adapt it into a middling American film?

Tom Hanks is why.

The A-lister problem

Dwayne Johnson - The Rock - has long been the perfect example of the modern movie star.

He has been Hollywood's most bankable star and films he is in are nearly always box office hits. He is one of the highest-grossing actors of all time, an impressive feat considering he hasn't starred in any Marvel films.

The Rock brings charisma and an unmatched money-making ability that makes him the actor producers want to cast the most. He's a quick route to profit. The capitalist's actor.

But the problem is that he is always playing himself. His films morph into each other and become an amalgamated mess in your mind.

Step right up and see The Rock as a superhero, a bounty hunter, a jungle cruise riverboat captain. It doesn't matter what he is because he's The Rock!

This has always been the way in cinema, and especially Hollywood. An A-list actor stars in a film and we all go see it because of that.

We expect that A-lister to bring some of themselves to the role because why else would they be there if not to draw us in?

But there should be a balance to things. And Tom Hanks is one actor who has managed to get that balance right time and time again.

Because when you go to a Tom Hanks film you want to see the things he's known for. His wholesomeness, his familiarity, his believability.

If he laughs, you laugh. If he cries, you cry.

But you also know that when you go to a Tom Hanks film that you're getting something a little bit more than just him, which is what makes his casting in this film such a good choice, so much so that you can't imagine it getting made without him.

It's a role that requires subtlety and dexterity to ensure the film doesn't become a joke, and Hanks provides that.

In the end, it's enough to take A Man Called Otto from poor to average, and that's a feat in and of itself.

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