A Man Called Otto just hit No. 1 on Netflix: Stream it or skip it?

Tom Hanks as Otto Anderson in A Man Called Otto
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Tom Hanks' star power still shines bright. His most recent movie, A Man Called Otto, started streaming on Netflix on Saturday (May 6) and shot to No. 1 on the streaming service's Top 10 movies list by by Sunday. It's still on top right now.

The dramedy comes from director Marc Forster from a screenplay by David Magee, who adapted it from Fredrik Backman's 2012 bestselling novel A Man Called Ove. The book was previously adapted into a 2015 Swedish film of the same name. 

The Americanized version was a modest theatrical success, earning $109 million worldwide on a $50 million budget. As far as critical acclaim, the movie generated ho-hum reviews, notching a mere 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the audience score is an outstanding 97%, so it is a real crowd-pleaser. 

So, is A Man Called Otto worth watching or not? Let's break it down. 

What is A Man Called Otto about?

Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks) is a grumpy, cynical widower living in suburban Pittsburgh. He lost his wife Sonya six months ago and has recently retired from his job at a steel company. Despondent and directionless, he decides to commit suicide. 

His attempt is interrupted by his new neighbors: a lively young family consisting of Marisol (Mariana Treviño), Tommy (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and their two daughters. 

Later suicide attempts also prove unsuccessful. In the meantime, Otto begins to develop a friendship with Marisol, takes in a stray cat, reconnects with old pal Reuben (Peter Lawson Jones) and mentors a transgender teen (Mack Bayda) who was Sonya's student. As these unexpected relationships form, Otto begins to rethink his life and future. 

A Man Called Otto reviews: What critics and audience members say

Mariana Treviño as Marisol and Tom Hanks in A Man Called Otto

(Image credit: Sony)

Critics and audiences are divided in their opinions on A Man Called Otto. The show has a RT score of just 69% (based on 203 reviews), contrasted to an 97% audience score. 

The critics range from dismissive of the show's blandness to lukewarm to somewhat positive. 

Empire's John Nugent writes the movie "doesn’t quite successfully balance its warring tones, but a winningly grumpy performance from Tom Hanks — and a winningly sunny one from Mariana Treviño — ensures for a very watchable take on the ‘giving life another shot’ subgenre."

If you are in the mood for a heartwarming story, but don't mind some cliché, A Man Called Otto may be just the ticket.

Glenn Kenny at The New York Times knocks it as "bloated," adding "obviousness rules the day here."

And Variety's Owen Gleiberman says, "The movie is trying so hard to be a crowd-pleaser, in its reach-for-the-synthetic, sitcom-meets-Hallmark heart, that it will likely end up pleasing very few."

Yet, that turns out to be not quite true, as audience members lavished the film with praise. RT user Sara calls it, "Funny, interesting and all around fantastic movie." Kathy writes, "It was amazing movie. Made me laugh and cry." Shirley says, "Again, Tom Hanks has made a movie that is superb. The supporting cast is excellent!"

A Man Called Otto: Stream or skip?

If you are in the mood for a heartwarming story, but don't mind some cliché, A Man Called Otto may be just the ticket. 

Even in negative reviews, critics lauded Hanks for giving his usual excellent performance. The man has been a star for decades for a reason. He may play a curmudgeon in this movie, but Hanks' likability can't help but shine through. 

Both the critics and audience members also noted the great supporting cast, particularly Treviño as Marisol. 

At just a little over two hours, A Man Called Otto is a quick watch for movie night. Just stock some tissues next to the popcorn. 

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Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.

  • johnyork1
    Enjoyed the movie. Just be warned the transgender narrative sneaks in for no good reason. Had I known beforehand I'd probably have skipped it. But it wasn't hard to hold my nose. Other than that it was excellent.