Predictable but anchored with terrific performances, especially from the compelling Bosom Buddy as it’s titular character, Swiss filmmaker Marc Forster’s film adaptation of the comical and heartfelt York Times bestseller is perhaps the cheery sort of comfort food audiences need after the punishing few years we’ve had.
A much more intimate, and simply structured tale than most of Tom Hanks’ recent crop of ballot fodder (this fits nicely alongside Hanks’s masses material like Forrest Gump and You’ve Got Mail), the David Magee scripted pic explores the character arc of a sourpuss widow who, after inadvertently becoming part of his new neighbours’ lives, finds meaning in life again. Otto, an irritable, middle-aged man living in a suburban neighbourhood in Pittsburgh, lives for his rules and routines but ultimately finds greater meaning in his life – placing cleanliness and order second to the needs of new friends, and a discarded cat, when Marisol (Mariana Treviño) and (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) move into the street.
Small the film might feel but Hanks, whose recent turns in Elvis and Greyhound seem to lack something, maybe gusto, is back in formidable form. In what’s unarguably the Oscar winner’s best performance since ‘Mr Rogers’ in 2019’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hanks is effortlessly convincing as the angry, heartbroken, frustrated, and ultimately healed senior.
Script doesn’t match Hanks’ brilliance, playing it far safer and spoonfeedy than his best, what with its button pushing final quarter and unconvincing audience-pleasing beats, but unless you’re in a cynical, frustrated mood like it’s lead character is for the majority of the film, you won’t mind the casual, syrupy, spotted-that-from-afar approach to the story.
The first adaptation of Otto, made in Swedish in 2015 by Hannes Holm, was a little deeper and more detailed but easy to please audiences, especially those with a love of everything Hanks, will find spending time with his Otto enjoyable.