Tom Hanks’ latest picture, A Man Called Otto, is currently entertaining theatergoers with its plucky charm and a genial story about a cantankerous older man who slowly discovers that life is worth living and being kind to others.
Sound familiar? That’s probably because plenty of films have utilized this same plot with varying results. Here are 10 movies like A Man Called Otto you can check out if you find yourself longing more in the same vein, and of course, the Swedish film A Man Called Ove is most similar as it served as the basis for the American version.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
The most obvious comparison to A Man Called Otto is James L. Brooks’ Academy Award-winning As Good As It Gets. Starring Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt, and Greg Kinnear, this light-as-a-feather dramedy plays the cranky old man with a heart of gold card but wins us over with its whip-smart script, terrific performances, and an ending that warms the heart (and makes one year for fresh bread). Perfect for date night.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Tom Cruise in a rom-com? Surprisingly, Cameron Crowe makes it work via a tale about a cynical sports agent who develops a conscience and must navigate a world he suddenly cares about. For all its pop culture influence — “Show me the money!” — Jerry Maguire remains a decidedly simplistic, good-natured story about wayward souls learning to appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Unconventional and quirky, this David O. Russell production hits all the right notes and finds Bradley Cooper’s rebounding mental patient tossing aside his past misdeeds for a romance with a grieving Jennifer Lawrence. Sparks fly — naturally — but the real joy of this production is how it appreciates the complicated realities of life where people must fight against the current to achieve true happiness.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Bill Murray shines in Harold Ramis’ classic 90s comedy about a cranky weatherman stuck in a time loop within the town of Punxsutawney, where he must relive Groundhog Day over and over again. Naturally, Murray’s character discovers a heart hidden deep within his cynicism, primarily thanks to Andie McDowell’s sweet-as-sugar producer. More emotional than expected, Groundhog Day serves equal laughs and heart.
Pixar’s animated adventure follows a bitter old man who charts a course to an exotic locale (via balloons tied to his house, no less) where he plans to spend his final days. Spoiling his plans is a young Boy Scout in need of a mentor. Naturally, the two form a bond while dealing with exotic birds, talking dogs, and an overly obsessed explorer. Somehow, Pixar makes the crazy plot work, leading to a heartwarming story about love, loss, and hope.
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Al Pacino won an Oscar for his portrayal of Lt. Col. Frank Slade, a blind man who embarks on one last hurrah before a planned suicide. Thankfully, his misadventure pairs him with Charlie Simms (Chris O’Donnell), a young college student who steps in and offers the eccentric old man a different perspective on life. Sweet harmony, folks, even if the results are a tad overdone. Hooah!
Rain Man (1988)
Tom Cruise was pretty young when he joined forces with Dustin Hoffman for this tale of two brothers — one a selfish playboy, the other a loveable man with autism — who head off to Las Vegas in search of women, money, and glory. Nevertheless, the story beats are similar to many on this list, as Cruise’s character grows a heart and slowly develops a love for his brother.
A remake of Billy Wilder’s classic 1954 dramedy, this 1995 effort finds Harrison Ford’s gruff businessman falling for Julia Ormond’s carefree chauffeur’s daughter with predictable, albeit entertaining, results. Director Sydney Pollack keeps the proceedings light and carefree and squeezes his main stars for all their worth, but Greg Kinnear steals the show in a star-making turn as Ford’s free-spirited brother.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)
While not the best entry on Julia Roberts’ esteemed résumé, My Best Friend’s Wedding nonetheless delights as an old-fashioned melodrama about a snotty brat who tries to upend her long-time friend’s wedding after realizing her feelings for the man. Surprisingly, Roberts is the villain of the story and (aided by Rupert Everett) must learn to put aside her selfish desires. Cameron Diaz sparkles as the bride.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Cheesy and sentimental, Bruce Almighty delights as a vehicle for Jim Carrey to flex his comedic chops. His Bruce inherits the powers of God (Morgan Freeman), you see, and uses his newfound gifts to … move up in his journalism career. Don’t think about the plot too much, but do enjoy Carrey’s antics and Bruce’s journey from a selfish jerk to a decent fellow.