A Man Called Otto parents guide

A Man Called Otto Parent Guide

Overflowing with positive messages, this movie is a perfect vehicle for Tom Hanks' acting talents.

Overall B+

Theaters: A grumpy widower starts to open up to his new neighbors, who are determined to be his friends.

Release date January 6, 2023

Violence C
Sexual Content A-
Profanity C+
Substance Use B+

Why is A Man Called Otto rated PG-13? The MPAA rated A Man Called Otto PG-13 for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language.

Run Time: 126 minutes

Parent Movie Review

With the death of his wife, all the light has gone out of Otto Anderson’s (Tom Hanks) world. Sonya filled his life with love and purpose, and Otto sees no reason to keep on living without her. Methodically, he sets about planning to end his life as soon as possible.

Otto might be done with life, but life is not done with Otto. An exuberant Hispanic family moves in across the street and wife and mother Marisol (Mariana Trevino) won’t let Otto reject their offered friendship. A neighborhood frenemy needs Otto’s help fighting back against devious property developers. A transgender former student of Sonya’s needs a place to sleep and a stray cat needs a new home. Every time Otto tries to kill himself, life gets in the way. Maybe, just maybe, this grieving widower will learn to live again…

The most important comment I have to make on this show is that “Tom Hanks is back”. After his disappointing role in Elvis and the very underwhelming Greyhound it’s wonderful to find a movie so perfectly suited to the beloved actor’s talents. This film is filled with heartfelt emotion, all of it matter-of-factly portrayed by Hanks. Otto’s grief, emptiness, rigidity, and despair all come to believable life here. In this role, he’s ably matched by Mariana Trevino whose Marisol brings a riot of color, warmth, and almost frenetic activity into his grey existence. Ms. Trevino has such genuine warmth that it manages to jump past the screen and into the theater. No wonder she’s able to soften an old man’s heart….

There’s no denying the darkness at the root of the story – Otto’s determination to kill himself. His various attempts are shown on screen and you will want to keep that in mind if you’re planning to watch this PG-13 production with your teens. Thankfully, the rest of the movie is filled with strong, positive themes about friendship, kindness, helpfulness, neighborliness, and reconciling past hurts. It provides a powerful reminder that the best way to cope with your own challenges is often to look around and help others who struggle. The overarching theme is love: Otto and Sonya had a close, enduring marriage built on love and devotion and strengthened through grief and hardship. In flashbacks, the film explores the early days of their relationship, telling a story that is sure to touch most viewers – even my cold critic’s heart softened and I will admit to blinking back a few tears as I watched.

Aside from suicide attempts, the movie’s negative content consists of just over two dozen profanities and some scenes of angry pushing and shoving. It’s on the low end of the PG-13 scale and the movie is definitely safe for teen viewers. I’m not sure, however, that a movie that tackles aging, death, love, and loss is going to appeal to adolescents. It certainly won’t do them any harm: considering these issues might even do them good. As for adult viewers, A Man Called Otto is definitely worth a watch. It will fill you with hope and happiness and maybe, just maybe, a desire to reach out to your own neighbors.

Directed by Marc Forster. Starring Tom Hanks, Rachel Keller, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. Running time: 126 minutes. Theatrical release January 6, 2023. Updated

Watch the trailer for A Man Called Otto

A Man Called Otto
Rating & Content Info

Why is A Man Called Otto rated PG-13? A Man Called Otto is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material involving suicide attempts, and language.

Violence: Repeated suicide attempts are shown on screen, one of which involves a firearm. A man collapses from a heart attack. A vehicle accident is shown, with injured people visible on the ground and serious injuries in the aftermath. There are several scenes where a main character shouts at or pushes and shoves other people.
Sexual Content: There are several scenes of a man and woman kissing. A woman goes into labor. A secondary character is a transgender teen who is thrown out of their house by their father. There’s mention of pregnancy loss.
Profanity:  The script contains over a dozen terms of deity, at least a half dozen scatological curses, and roughly the same number of minor profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A man offers a friend a bottle of alcohol but they do not drink it.

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A Man Called Otto Parents' Guide

Like millions of people, and especially senior citizens, Otto is painfully lonely and feels that his life lacks meaning without his wife. Why do you think loneliness is so widespread in modern society? Do you struggle with loneliness? How do you think we need to change our culture to reach out to others? What do you think you could do to widen your social circle or to include those who feel isolated?

For more information about loneliness, you can follow these links:

CDC: Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions

BBC Science Focus: A psychologist explains how modern life is making us lonely, but it doesn’t have to

The New York Times: UK Appoints a Minister for Loneliness

Harvard Health: Does social media make you lonely?

Mental Health Foundation: 15 things to do if you’re feeling lonely

The New York Times: How to Make, and Keep, Friends in Adulthood

Parade: Making Friends as an Adult Isn’t Easy, so We Came up with 102 Expert-Backed Ways to Do It


Loved this movie? Try these books…

This film is a remake of a Swedish movie based on the novel A Man Called Ove. Written by Fredrik Backman it’s available in English translation.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

Many of the same themes are covered in the kid-suitable Pixar film, Up. This movie also features a devoted marriage and themes of love, loss, and aging.

In a less family-friendly story, Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood stars as a grumpy Korean War vet in a crime-ridden neighborhood. As an attempted car theft brings his neighbors into his life, he is forced to confront a lifetime of prejudices.

A widowed cleaning lady in post-war London follows her dream and, with the support of friends old and new, goes in search of a designer dress in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

A couple of crotchety old great uncles sound like terrible company for a young boy – but spending the summer with them changes his life (and theirs) in Secondhand Lions. Another child - a 12 year old girl this time – is sent to her grandfather’s home for the summer in Come Away Home. As their relationship grows, she expands her circles to his neighbors.