Following its release in theaters at the beginning of the year, A Man Called Otto has finally arrived on Netflix. The film, which is based on a 2015 Swedish movie called A Man Called Ove, follows an aging, cynical widower who finds that his life is opened up after he develops a relationship with his neighbors. Although the movie didn’t make an insane amount of money in theaters, A Man Called Otto is doing quite well for itself on the streaming service, ranking consistently high on Netflix’s most popular movies of the week list.
Anyone who tells you that they know exactly why a certain movie connects with audiences is lying. In this case, though, there are some factors we can examine which may offer some clues as to why A Man Called Otto has become such an incredible phenomenon since it hit the service a few weeks ago.
1. Tom Hanks’s star power
He may be in his 60s, but American audiences of all ages still love Tom Hanks. He’s been a bankable movie star for more than 30 years, and having that kind of recognizable face at the center of your movie is a great way to get people to watch it. A Man Called Otto is not telling a new story, but attaching Tom Hanks to the project makes the movie feel big in a way that it might not if it were someone with less charisma and standing with the public.
Of course, Tom Hanks has starred in his fair share of flops over the course of his career, from 1985’s Volunteers to 2017’s The Circle. Not every movie the man makes is guaranteed to be a hit. In a streaming environment like Netflix, though, you’d much rather have Hanks at the center of your movie than almost anyone else.
2. It’s the ideal movie to watch at home
A Man Called Otto definitely wasn’t a blockbuster during its run in theaters, but the movie certainly got plenty of marketing that probably primed the pump for everyone who was intrigued by the movie but didn’t want to spend $50 to see it in theaters. This isn’t the first time that a movie that came to Netflix shortly after its theatrical run proved to be a major hit on the streamer in a way it wasn’t when it was in theaters.
A Man Called Otto is not the kind of movie that demands to be seen on an enormous screen. Instead, the advertising campaign for the movie’s theatrical run gave plenty of people who didn’t see it in theaters a chance to understand what it was, and to learn the title. That, combined with the star wattage that Hanks still brings to every project, may have been more than enough to turn A Man Called Otto into a fairly impressive hit.
3. A Man Called Otto makes you feel good without being too sappy
This may seem obvious or pat, but A Man Called Otto is the kind of movie that feels almost guaranteed to leave you feeling better than when you sat down to watch it. It’s about a grumpy old man who discovers, in part through his connection to other people, that the world is a better place than he initially thought. It’s also funny and charming, even if it plays by the rules of a pretty well-established formula.
In fact, that formula may have been part of what viewers were looking for. It can be comforting to find something that seems familiar and revel in the fact that you know every beat of what’s coming. Plus, the fact that Tom Hanks is in it may speak, at least somewhat, to its overall quality. A Man Called Otto isn’t revolutionary, but most people searching out movies on Netflix aren’t looking for revolutionary.
A Man Called Otto is now streaming on Netflix.