starring Tom Hanks, Mariana Treviño, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Mike Birbiglia
screenplay by David Magee, based on the novel A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and the film A Man Called Ove written by Hannes Holm
directed by Marc Forster
by Walter Chaw "Get out of here while you can," the old man snarls to the stray cat. "I'm not your friend." But of course he will befriend the kitty, because you don't introduce a stray cat at the beginning of a manipulative piece of happy-go-fuckery like A Man Called Otto without it becoming one catalyst of many for the objectionable curmudgeon's development of a renewed reason for living. You could say that every character in A Man Called Otto is similarly a collection of adorable quirks and bottomless patience designed exclusively for the redemptive salvation of our man Otto. Otto, who is Tom Hanks's second shot at playing someone on the neurodivergent spectrum, this time landing somewhere just south of the elder Paul Newman, in the neighbourhood of Walter Matthau (at the corner of Richard Russo and Garrison Keillor). On his first date with his dead wife (Rachel Keller), a scene played in flashback by Hanks's other other son, Truman (who is less like a cross between Hanks and Rita Wilson than between Colin and Chet), Otto's asked what he's passionate about and says he's interested in machines and how things work. Forced into early retirement as the picture opens, he's a dedicated engineer obsessed with details--yet he doesn't understand that if he wants to hang himself from a rope looped through a ring hook in his living room, he needs to use a support beam in the ceiling or else what you know is going to happen will happen. Then he blames the hook. I know it's a Better Off Dead gag, but it's also inconsistent writing meant to extort a response like Thomas Newman's emotive/emetic tongue bath of a score. If you turned the concept of "insincere pathos" into a music box, this is the noise it would make. It conjures the images of teddy bears finding a baby next to a river. Look, if Thomas Kinkade paintings came with soundtracks...