A Man Called Otto review: generally upbeat tale about grumpy older man has some surprising dark moments

THE likes of Basil Fawlty and Victor Meldrew proved  the grumpy older man can be a winning comic formula.

And so it continues with Tom Hanks’s jobsworth curmudgeon Otto Anderson in this remake of 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove.

Tom Hanks’ Otto has little time for modern developments, such as reversing bleepers on carsCredit: Alamy

Otto has little time for modern developments, such as reversing bleepers on cars, social media journalists or shop checkout staff asking, “Did you find every-thing you needed today?”

This neighbourhood busy-body is blunter than a hammer, growling “whaddya want?” at anyone who speaks to him and describing everyone as an “idiot.”

But just as I was warming to Otto, he goes on one of those “journeys of redemption” where he begins to like people. Or at least tolerate them.

Most notably, he becomes friends with the heavily pregnant Marisol who’s moved into the house across the street.

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With her habit of rapping on his doors loudly and poking her nose into his business, it is an “unlikely friendship”, as in their friendship is too unlikely to be believed.

His cold heart melts in the face of her two sweet-natured kids, he stops hating the feral cat and we gradually learn why he despises everything.

It’s not just because he lives in a grey house on a grey street. Otto’s back story is a real tearjerker — one designed to turn on even the rustiest of waterworks.

Taking the role of the young Otto in frequent flashbacks is Tom’s son, Truman Hanks. He might look like his dad but that’s as far as the genes stretch because Truman is a no- show when it comes to acting.

Fortunately, both Mariana Trevino as Marisol and Rachel Keller as Otto’s wife offer up the passion Hanks Jr lacks. 

What is most surprising about this comic drama is how dark some of it is.

Don’t let the upbeat trailer fool you, because former Bond director Marc Forster includes scenes of botched suicide attempts.

The 15-certificate is appropriate, given how parts of the movie are almost a guide to topping yourself, and the gallows humour doesn’t quite work.

It’s at odds with the generally right-on, upbeat messaging about community.

But the biggest problem is that Otto was far funnier when he was mean.

IF you’re in the mood for an unoriginal, uninspired crime thriller with stock characters and pitiful dialogue, look no further than The Enforcer.

In the feature debut of ad director Richard Hughes, Antonio Banderas plays Cuda, a just-out-of-prison hitman who uses his killing skills to debt/death collect for organised crime boss Estelle (Kate Bosworth).

The film is a less-than-mediocre addition to the hitman canon

The film is a less-than-mediocre addition to the hitman canon

After having taken rookie enforcer Stray (Mojean Aria) under his wing, Cuda’s conscience is tested when a young female runaway gets kidnapped.

Desperado this ain’t, and there is only so far that Banderas’s husky Spanish lilt and natural charisma can carry a formulaic plot.

W. Peter Iliff’s script is more interested in mundane analogies and hackneyed femme fatale, stripper and gangster stereotypes than offering up any sort of character depth or motivation.

If Banderas’s cast-mates had the ability to elevate these  characters, maybe the film would be passable – but every bit of line delivery falls flat.

To cinematographer Callan Green’s credit, the film has some aesthetic appeal, but even with Banderas’s star power, the film is a less-than-mediocre addition to the hitman canon.

TILL is a movie that begins and ends with familial joy, despite the harrowing event that made the name of Emmett Till reverberate around the world.

For writer and director Chinonye Chukwu, explicitly presenting the racially charged murder of the 14-year-old in Money, Mississippi, 1955, was not her purpose.

Deadwyler encapsulates every emotion – love, rage, sorrow, anxiety, pride, despair and courage

Deadwyler encapsulates every emotion – love, rage, sorrow, anxiety, pride, despair and courageCredit: © 2022 ORION PICTURES RELEASING LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Instead, the Clemency filmmaker has focused on Mamie, Emmett’s mother, who sought justice and demanded the publication of images of her son’s  battered body. 

Danielle Deadwyler’s performance as the late African-American mother and civil rights activist  puts you in the shoes of Mamie, before, during and after the lynching of her son by white supremacists – and it’s a very moving place to be.

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Deadwyler encapsulates every emotion – love, rage, sorrow, anxiety, pride, despair and courage – as public interest in her son’s brutal murder increases.

With Jalyn Hall playing Emmett, Till is a tough watch but a strong reminder of the vital contribution black women played in the civil rights movement and in bringing the racist crimes to public awareness.


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