Thursday, January 5, 2023

Tom Hanks taps into crankiness


A Man Called Otto, an American remake of a better 2015 Swedish film, follows a familiar formula: A grumpy older man who thinks he's right about everything pushes away those who try to be nice to him.  With Tom Hanks playing Otto -- the old man of the title -- you can bet (and you'll be right) that Otto will soften before the movie ends. Working from a screenplay by David Magee, director Marc Forster has little to offer aside from watching Hanks play a less-than-likable character -- at least for a while. Of course, Otto has reasons for the dyspeptic approach that marks his golden years: retirement, the death of his wife, and the deterioration of the quality of nearly everything. In Otto's mind, all things were better in the past. Early on, the hapless Otto tries to hang himself. He fails, but we're meant to know that Otto has had it with living. Flashbacks in which Hanks' son, Truman Hanks portrays a younger version of Otto, show him falling in love and beginning to build a life.  In the movie's present-tense sequences, Otto encounters friendly neighbors (Mariana Trevino and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). Otto also meets a trans kid (Mack Bayda) who fondly remembers his late wife, a teacher who honored the kid's identity. Other neighbors crop up and an evil developer must be warded off. Not even a persistent stray cat can turn this cranky-to-cuddly movie into anything fresh and, more important, believable. Hanks? He's a great actor but when it comes to sour old men, Clint Eastwood (see Gran Torino) can be both crankier and, of course,  older. 

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