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"Secondhand Lions" - Movie Review

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2003 9 Sep
  • COMMENTS
"Secondhand Lions" - Movie Review

Genre:  Comedy, Drama

Rating:  PG (for thematic material, language and action violence)

Release Date:  September 19, 2003

Actors:  Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick, Nicky Katt, Josh Lucas

Director:  Tim McCanlies

Special Notes:  Tim McCanlies wrote and directed this movie as well as narrates the story. You may be familiar with another one of his classics, “The Iron Giant.”

Plot:  During a long Texas summer in the 1960s, a shy and nervous 14 year-old Walter (Osment) is dropped off at his great uncles' house by his self-centered mother Mae (Sedgwick) who wants to pursue her own dreams. At first Walter doesn’t have much in common with these two cranky old men, Garth and Hub (Caine and Duvall), who shoot fish out of a pond. However, little by little, the eccentric pair warm up to Walter and in turn Walter becomes enthralled with their tall tales of adventure, rumors about a hidden treasure and mystery over an old photograph of a beautiful woman. The three face obnoxious relatives, a lion on the hunt, a group of teenagers looking for a fight and the threat of Mae coming back to take Walter. But more importantly, they learn to depend on each other and learn valuable lessons about trust and love.

Good:  All I can say is I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!  It has everything you could want: a heartwarming story about men mentoring a boy, adventure with a lion, a gang of hoodlums, intense “Indiana Jones” kind of action and a renewed hope for life when there seems to be none. Duvall and Caine prove what legends they really are in this business, and each of them give Oscar worthy performances that should earn them nominations. Osment becomes a young man and really did have to deal with his squeaky puberty voice. At first his performance wasn’t doing much for me until the middle of the movie when he got more comfortable with his character. By the end, the kid really got to me; tears were flowing like a faucet during one scene. I enjoyed the rich dialogue and colorful conversations between Hub and Garth, the touching talks they have with Walter and the precious lessons about life that each of them learn. The plot focuses on courage, virtue, honor, faith, trust and holding oneself to a higher standard. It takes a boy who had been repeatedly lied to by his mother and places him in an environment where he’s taught to trust and have faith, especially in men. The themes and story will resonate with all ages. Men, take your sons (or a boy close to you) to see this movie. They will love the wonderful mentoring moments when Walter realizes he’s growing up and needs to have men he can look up to in his life. Women and girls will likewise enjoy and learn from this coming-of-age story as well as enjoy the adventure of Princess Jasmine and other “tug at your heartstrings’ moments. There’s a scene by the pond where Osment puts his arms around Duvall and tearfully begs him not to die, but to stay and teach him things about life and grow old with him. I guarantee you will need tissues for that scene! Go see this movie if for no other reason than the incredible cast of characters and wonderful tales of adventure. This is a movie that will make you laugh, cry and appreciate life’s important treasures – the people we love.

Bad: There are a couple of crude words used by Hub and Garth as well as a fistfight scene, but overall this is a pretty “tame” movie. 

Bottom Line:  This is one of those movies that when it's over and the credits are rolling, you’ll smile at the ending’s plot twist and then you’ll think about the story long after you walk out of the theater. As a single mom of two boys, this story hit home with me, because it's a reminder of how important it is that a boy have a male role model in his life.