See it at the movies

Tom Hanks is "A Man Called Otto."
Tom Hanks is "A Man Called Otto."
Niko Tavernise/Columbia Pictures



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Call it sentimental. Call it schmaltz.

“A Man Called Otto” tugs at your heartstrings as we gain sympathy for the grump of the year, a retired, widowed, lonely man who lives in the past and believes he has nothing left to live for.

Tom Hanks captures the sadness of a man whose life has no meaning after the loss of his beloved wife.

His daily routine consists of chastising everyone who breaks the rules in his row house neighborhood.

The movie opens in a hardware store with Otto buying just the right amount of rope to hang himself and refusing to pay the young clerk for selling him more than he needs.

Suicide attempts fail, as neighbors unknowingly interfere.

New neighbors try desperately to reach him, and one finally does.

Mariana Trevino plays Marisol, a pregnant mother with two young daughters and a husband who Otto considers an idiot.

The truth is that Otto thinks everyone is an idiot. He also finds it difficult to accept the present culture and attitudes of everyone he meets. I found the first half of the movie a bit tedious and contrived as we watched Otto yell at wrong-way drivers, dog-walkers, and developers.

The movie becomes more interesting as his neighbors turn to him for help, and Otto in return finds some meaning in his miserable life.

Otto becomes a hero for an act that gains him wider fame, but his true heroism is more subtle to his neighbors and the stray cat that adopts him.

A poignant ending may require a handkerchief for some.


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