Since the death of his wife, Otto has lived in seclusion in his terraced house. Only a new neighbor manages to – reluctantly – reintegrate him into society. However, the tragic comedy “A Man Named Otto” is not brought to life.

Who is the nicest man in Hollywood? For most Americans, the answer is pretty straightforward: Tom Hanks. Since the beginning of his career in the 1980s, he has enjoyed a reputation as an actor with a heart of gold who gets along well with everyone and is always willing to help. There are a number of touching stories online about the 66-year-old, whom many refer to as “America’s Dad” or would like to see in the Oval Office. The New York Times editor Taffy Bordesser-Akner even goes so far as to say that an interview with Hanks eased her depression and “cured” her.

Tom Hanks is also repeatedly praised for his achievements in front of the camera. One of Hollywood’s most distinguished character actors, he won Oscars for both ‘Philadelphia’ (1993) and ‘Forrest Gump’ (1994), as well as ‘Big’ (1988) and ‘Cast Away’ (2000). a Golden Globe each. In his latest film, “A Man Named Otto”, he once again plays his role with great passion and sensitivity. Unfortunately, that alone is not enough to bring the novel adaptation, which is based on the already filmed international bestseller “A Man Called Ove” by Swedish writer Frederik Backman, to life.

Otto (Hanks) is a lonely and bad-tempered man, almost obnoxious to his neighbors, who just call him the “grumpy old bastard”. The pensioner is annoyed by everyone around him: by the UPS drivers who drive on his street without a permit, by the neighbors who don’t care about the ordinances of the housing estate, by the dog owner whose pet sometimes pees in his front yard or by the friendly people who want to make small talk. The repellent behavior of the self-proclaimed neighborhood cop is only explained by his backstory, which is shown in numerous flashbacks (and with Hanks’ youngest son Truman as young Otto): After various strokes of fate, which in and of themselves would have the potential to turn a person into a cynic his beloved wife Sonya (Rachel Keller) recently died, leaving a broken man in her wake.

It quickly becomes clear that Otto has no intention of continuing to live without Sonya for long. He meticulously prepares for his suicide in order to follow his wife in her death. But to his displeasure, his attempts are constantly interrupted, not least by his new neighbors Marisol and Tommy (Mariana Treviño and Manuel García-Rulfo), who, at least in Otto’s eyes, feel powerful when they move into the terraced house across the street with their two small daughters cause an uproar. Over time, it is Marisol who simply ignores Otto’s unfriendly attitude and – albeit reluctantly – reintegrates him into society. Due to her positive nature, the old curmudgeon suddenly sees and experiences many things that are worth getting up in the morning for. She even wrestles his only compliment from him: “You’re not an idiot”.

“A Man Named Otto” is a film that delivers exactly what it promises, nothing more and nothing less. If you look at the trailer, you can already predict the course with a fair degree of certainty due to its low-risk plot. Because the concept used “hard shell with a soft core” is as clichéd as the rest of the plot. The fact that Otto really ends his life actively cannot be seriously believed in any of his many attempts. The German-Swiss director Marc Forster (“James Bond 007 – A Quantum of Solace”) cannot do justice to the seriousness of the topic of suicide, which surrounds the film like a dark shadow. But the tragic comedy is neither dark, black nor funny enough to justify scenes in which Otto literally pulls his head out of the noose to discipline his noisy neighbors.

Forster has made an effort not to portray Otto as hateful or as prejudiced as, for example, Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino” (his character is more reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in “It Can’t Be Better”). But the mere fact that it’s Tom Hanks who plays the leading role suggests that the insufferable grouch will eventually thaw out and his true side will come out instead.

In order to underpin Otto’s transformation from recluse to helpful neighbor, the film sometimes gets bogged down in too many long flashbacks and subplots that are supposed to explain exactly why he is the way he is. The retiree goes viral after saving a man’s life and uses social media to bring down a ruthless real estate company. But no matter how uninspired the plot may be at times – it doesn’t stop the tears that will surely flow sooner or later. If you are looking for a dramatic story of this kind, your expectations will certainly be satisfied with “A Man Named Otto”.

“A Man Named Otto” will be in cinemas on February 2nd.