Secondhand Lions

"OK"

Secondhand Lions Review


Like a similar creature that patrols a certain Yellow Brick Road, Tim McCanlies' Secondhand Lions is in dire need of a shot of courage. It's scary to think of how much better this king of the jungle could've been had it possessed the sharp teeth of its animal namesake and took a serious bite out of the plump themes of family greed, lost love and misspent youth. What we're left with are recycled kitten swipes taken by a family-friendly charmer that's content to coast by on the casting coup of landing Michael Caine and Robert Duvall under one cinematic roof.

Shy, bookish, and firmly implanted in his social shell, young Walter (Haley Joel Osment) receives a wake-up call when he's unceremoniously dumped off with his two great uncles Garth (Caine) and Hub (Duvall). It could be for a few days but might be for a few months, his mother (Kyra Sedgwick) tells him. Oh, and the two eccentric curmudgeons reportedly are millionaires, so if Walter can figure out where they're stashing their money before mom returns, all the better.

Hosting company is not this duo's forte. Garth and Hub are two old men "fixin' to die," and they just want to do so in peace. They spend their days taking pot shots (literally) at traveling salesmen and lecherous relatives wanting to muscle in on the supposed inheritance. In time, they take a liking to Walter, though. Not for anything the boy does, per se, but more for the fact that the screenplay requires they grow closer. Yes, it feels that forced.

But what a motley trio! The pre-pubescent Osment is still growing into his talents, while his legendary co-stars are yet to pass their prime. The sensitive and open-minded Caine offers a pleasant counterbalance to Duvall's surly coot who's quick to lead with his fists. Osment does more reacting than acting, but the three form a specialized boy's club you'd pay anything to join.

We're really given two movies in Lions, though one's more developed than the other. On the outside, writer/director McCanlies' pleasant, "down-home" humor barely enhances a conventional coming-of-age drama, not for the boy but for his grown-up uncles who've yet to acknowledge their God-given ages. The underdeveloped frame story continually diverts back to the past, though, where we're shown how Hub and Garth found romance, wealth, and intrigue in WWI-era Europe and Africa. These comically adventurous flashbacks borrow a page from Rob Reiner's The Princess Bride, and allow McCanlies the opportunity to let his hair down. Back in the present day, when he's got the likes of Caine and Duvall at his disposal, he's wise to place his faith in his actors and let them nurture the predictable fluff to full term.

Lions quietly carves away at the hardened exterior erected by the two old codgers until it unearths the audiences' heartstrings, then gives them a great big tug. Soft and edgeless, it's been polished to a dull gleam for audience consumption. McCanlies isn't afraid to guide his production into Hallmark territory, so we're destined for a happy ending, even if it pushes the boundaries of reality way past the point of acceptance. Certainly there are better existing projects for these two acting dynamos, but if this is what it takes to get Caine and Duvall together on screen, it will have to do.

The DVD includes a handful of deleted and alternate scenes,a commentary from director McCanlies, and the usual made-for-HBO documentaries and featurettes. The flipper disc offers both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film.

Haley scares us. He really is a robot boy.



Secondhand Lions

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th September 2003

Box Office USA: $41.4M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 54

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Garth, as Hub, as Walter, as Mae, as Boy, Marc Musso as Boy, Daniel Brooks as Sheik's Great Grandson

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.