A remake of the 2015 Swedish comedy-drama A Man Called Ove is much safer ground for the actor they call “America’s Dad.” Hanks plays a retired curmudgeon named Otto who plans to commit suicide after the death of his wife.
The opening scenes play out like a less edgy version of Jack Nicholson’s As Good As It Gets, as the grumpy old man growling at store clerks and shooing away a hungry street moggie while patrolling his street for parking violations.
But since this is Hanks, we’re already looking for signs of a heart of gold.
He embarks on that inevitable road to redemption when a Mexican couple rents a house across the street. I can’t imagine Hanks stealing the Best Actor Oscar from his Elvis co-star Austin Butler, but Mariana Treviño is my suggestion for Best Supporting Actress for her powerful performance as the energetic and pregnant Marisol.
Immediately dismissing his husband as a “jerk” (he is, but nice), Otto begins helping with chores and becomes a hot-tempered surrogate uncle to their two young children.
It’s charming and life-affirming, if not quite as moving as the Swedish film. Hanks is an expert at ripping out the heartstrings, but Rolf Lassgård is a much funnier curmudgeon.
Flashbacks to the grumpy’s days as a youngster also lack power, mostly due to a wooden turn from Hanks’ amateur actor’s son, Truman.
This is a movie about kindness, foster families, and the importance of caring for strangers.
In Hollywood, it seems, charity begins at home.
- A Man Called Otto, Cert 12A, in theaters now
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