A MAN CALLED OTTO – Review by T.J. Callahan

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A Man Called Otto: “ You are not a complete idiot.”

Tom Hanks makes every movie better. Okay, okay, not Elvis. But he certainly elevates this remake of an Oscar nominated Swedish film from the New York Times bestselling novel titled A Man Called Ove.

Otto Anderson is the quintessential Grumpy Old Man. He’s Jack Lemmon AND Walther Matthau. He’s Carl Fredricksen from Up. Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. The Grinch personified, in more ways than one. Otto is a widower. His beloved wife passed away and he believes he has nothing left to live for. He continually tries to end his life, but keeps getting interrupted…by the well meaning neighbors whom he continually criticizes. Their persistence pays off.

That’s the basic plot of A Man Called Otto. Nothing we haven’t seen before. No real plot twists to keep us guessing. Just a feel good movie to start off 2023. If you remember A Man Called Ove, you’ll see that not only has Otto been Americanized in actions and humor, he’s been transplanted into current times. Modern day issues, terminology and technology have been integrated into the story. We lose out on the Swedish sense of satire, but gain Hanks. He’s the reason to see the film.

A Man Called Otto, without Hanks (and sometimes with Hanks), is simply an old fashioned made for TV movie. The flashback scenes with a younger Otto meeting his soul mate, Sonya, are sweet. Mexican actress Mariana Trevino holds her own with Hanks as nosy neighbor Marisol. The rest of the predominantly unknown cast are plot fillers.

Despite its mediocrity, A Man Called Otto conveys heart and good ideas to practice as we start the new year: don’t judge a book by its cover, there’s always something to live for, and treat others as you’d like to be treated. Who can argue with that?!

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T. J. Callahan

Longtime Houston radio personality, T.J. Callahan switched gears from traffic and news reporting as a member of the award winning Hudson and Harrigan Show on KILT to directing you to the right movie theatre as the resident film critic for The Sam Malone Show on AM 1070 The Answer in Houston. Since 2009, T.J. has exclusively critiqued premiering films on such stations as KRMD in Shreveport, La., KILT in Houston, WCKT in Sarasota, Fla., as well as on The Chris X Blayney Show on The Liberty Eagle Radio Network and streaming on Radio Brave. Entertaining and informative, T.J. gets right to the point and lets you know whether the latest epic is worth your time. Listen to her live every Thursday morning at 9:20 central on KNTH. T.J. is also a proud member of the Critics Choice Association, the Houston Film Critics Society and a board member and 2017 inductee to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.