Movie Review
Secondhand Lions
Secondhand Lions poster
By Greg Ward     Published September 21, 2003
US Release: September 19, 2003

Directed by: Tim McCanlies
Starring: Michael Caine , Robert Duvall , Haley Joel Osment , Kyra Sedgwick

Running Time: 111 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $41,521,000
A true accomplishment that all ages can cherish for years to come
Growing old isn?t always a bad thing ? some people believe that getting older reduces your ability to have fun and really live your life.

In "Secondhand Lions," this theory is proved wrong by the vivacious old men who carry this wonderful new tale from director Tim McCanlies.
"Secondhand Lions" tells the story of Walter (Haley Joel Osment), a young boy who lives with his mother (Kyra Sedgwick) ? a woman who doesn?t give him the attention he needs and deserves, coming off as somewhat conceited. His mother takes him to his two uncles (Michael Caine, Robert Duvall) to spend a few months, as rumor has it that these old men are filthy rich and have a fortune stashed away ? the mother informs Walter and tells him to keep his eyes open for it.

Walter, on the other hand, has a lot more to worry about due to the fact that he is living with two men who have never raised children before in their life and really want nothing to do with him. As the story progresses, Walter and his two uncles start to become close ? gardening together, telling wild stories about their past that may or may not be true, and adopting a pet lion.

It has been a while since a film has touched me so much that I almost cried. There are so many moments in this film that are very uplifting and inspirational at the same time. There is a scene where Uncle Hub (Duvall) and Walter are on the beach and Hub gives Walter a speech about being a man. The speech is very thoughtful and wise at the same time. Other moments such as the scene where Hub confronts trouble-seeking teens who want to pick on old men are uplifting and sharply written by McCanlies.

I especially liked the sequences about Hub and Garth?s (Caine) past. They are filmed with a lot of energy and pizzazz that makes each of them gripping and immensely enjoyable. Whether these stories happen to be true or not, you always want to know what?s going to happen after each segment ends. McCanlies is good at this, as he knows that the audience will be hooked to these stories and will be craving for more.

The performances in this film are rock solid ? Michael Caine and Robert Duvall give magnificent performances that are truly unforgettable; each of them takes their character and makes them their own. The transition they make from being two grumpy old men who sit on the porch shooting at salesmen to lovable men who want to do nothing but make sure what?s best for Walter is extremely convincing because of the chemistry Caine and Duvall have. I can definitely see both of them being up for Oscars at the 2004 ceremony.

Haley Joel Osment proved himself to be a gifted child actor with terrific performances in "The Sixth Sense" and "A.I." In "Lions," he makes the transition from child actor to teenage actor, and it works beautifully. He brings a certain charm to Walter that I couldn?t imagine anyone else giving. This kind of performance proves that he will be around for years to come; he certainly won?t go through the Macaulay Culkin stage.

"Secondhand Lions" is a wonderful film ? secrets, swashbuckling adventures, and valuable lessons about life lay amidst this fascinating tale (just to name a few). Very rarely does a family film come along that?s so touching and perfect for all ages at the same time, as even those who usually don?t enjoy films like this should check this film out ? it is a true accomplishment that all ages can cherish for years to come.
Greg's Grade: A
Greg's Overall Grading: 25 graded movies
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