You could do a lot worse than heading to the theater for “A Man Called Otto,” which has more of a sitcom feel than the original Swedish predecessor that was based on a novel.
Tom Hanks usually isn’t among the stars when it comes to “January junk,” that time of year when studios release movies that weren’t reliable enough for awards consideration later in the previous year.
Often, films released at this time are dreadful. This one isn’t. It’s serviceable, and it has its moments. But once the characters are set up you’ll know how they will interact and how the finale will develop.
Hanks is, of course, the titular character Otto, a grump who surely would have been played decades ago by the likes of Walter Matthau.
The grouchy, growl-y Otto has good reason to be disappointed with his life: He has been forced into retirement, and he now finds himself living alone. Otto is the first to let anyone in his neighborhood – an errant driver, for example – just what the rules are and why they shouldn’t be broken.
Toward the beginning of the film, we see Otto arguing over the price of a rope … you can figure out what he has in mind. Of course, his neighbors foil his plans. In particular, the talkative Marisol (the terrific Mariana Treviño, who is the main reason to see this movie) becomes a part of Otto’s life … whether he likes it or not.
The younger Otto is played in flashbacks by Hanks’ real-life son, Truman Hanks.
I expected more from director Marc Forster, who helmed the excellent “Monster’s Ball” and enjoyable “Quantum of Solace.” Here he directs a paint-by-numbers project that looks like a big-budget picture but feels more like a TV movie.
It’s good enough to spend some time with. Just don’t expect anyone to remember it at the end of the year.
Rate: PG-13 for foul language, themes of death and suicide and other adult material.
Running time: Two hours and six minutes.
At Cinemark, Davenport.
Watch the trailer here.