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Secondhand Lions
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Reviews & Ratings for
Secondhand Lions More at IMDbPro »

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172 out of 194 people found the following review useful:

Very Special

10/10
Author: nabor7 from Texas
31 October 2004

I cannot see how anyone would dis this movie unless they especially disliked a particular actor. I thought the casting was great, right down to the secondhand lion and the pig. The flashbacks were hilarious because as we age, the things we did before become more dramatic and are further enhanced. No one thinks about their past in terms of mediocrity, and this was brought out in the flashback scenes. Osment was a superb cast in this movie because of his unchanging facial expression. He has been burnt out with lies and his mother's constant searching for a husband only to find another loser.His comment to his mother said it all. Here was a kid who had met a lot of "uncles", so here were two more uncles that he was being pawned off on.

Robert Duvall and Michael Caine are the only two actors that come to mind who could pull this off. I plan to add this to my collection and would highly recommend it to anyone who has a ever daydreamed about far off places or dares to dream about what might have been.

Hollywood has gone off the deep end in trying to project a certain political ideology and this has hurt the overall film industry. It is no wonder that when a good movie like this comes out, it is not given a second look and is soon forgotten. It's sad.

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135 out of 141 people found the following review useful:

Achieves Excellence!

10/10
Author: staplek from Texas
22 September 2003

"Secondhand Lions" is a movie which has achieved excellence. The story line is fast-moving and packed with nuance. Various elements of the plot overlap and blend for a harmonious whole. It is not a series of action scenes played primarily for visual impact, but a compelling story which demands attentive viewing.

Flashback scenes are intentionally cartoonish, so that the audience, like the character of the boy Walter, is left wondering whether the fantastic tales of the old uncles' adventurous youth are really to be believed. Uncle Garth tells the stories, which we see through Walter's imagination. We see in the flashbacks what Walter envisions as he hears the stories, and Walter doesn't have the age and experience to see anything other than the caricatures which appear in the flashback scenes. It's not a photo-accurate rendition, it's what a youngster imagines while listening to oral storytelling. For instance, a twelve-year-old Texan in the 1950s wouldn't have been likely to know what a really angry Sheik would have looked like in the 1920s. These flashbacks, and the ways in which they are depicted, are central to the plot of the movie. Through his storytelling, without realizing it, Uncle Garth nurtures a creative potential in Walter (who will grow up to become a cartoonist).

Christian Kane is a magnificent casting choice as young Uncle Hub (the younger incarnation of Duvall's character), displaying just the right kind of spark for the daring adventurer. Kyra Sedgwick is eerily believable as Walter's shallow and self-absorbed mother. The family of hick relatives is superbly annoying.

Haley Joel Osment delivers a solid portrayal of Walter. Sometimes his voice sounds like that of a boy, sometimes like that of a young man, as would be expected in a male of Walter's age. Sometimes Walter cries like a child, sometimes he displays stoic maturity, as would be expected from a boy who is in the transition of becoming a man. We see Walter unsure of himself in the beginning, but later finding his footing. Not too sugary, not too hard-edged, Haley Joel Osment is ideal for the role. He may be overshadowed by Caine and Duvall, but actually holds his own reasonably well, working between these two living legends.

Michael Caine's accent as Uncle Garth is a perfect portrayal of a Texan who has lived outside Texas for much of his life. Garth is no bumpkin hick, but a man who has traveled the world, and in light of his experiences it would not have been credible to give this character a strong country drawl. Even though, as the plot progresses, we don't know how much of Garth's fantastic storytelling we should believe, there is never a question of whether Garth has ventured outside the Texas borders. (Education and travel tend to have the effect of diminishing regional accents. I have lived in Texas for twenty years, and have known many older native Texans whose diction is much like Garth's.) Michael Caine gives Uncle Garth just the right combination of toughness and tenderness, and treads the fine line of allowing us to see Garth as a trustworthy character regardless of his adventurous stories.

The uncles are very realistic characterizations, and Texas holds many characters like them. The aging uncles had, as young men, gone away to find adventure, and lived on the edge for much of their lives. Then they returned home to retire in a rural Texas setting which they were finding to be just a little too tame, no longer remembering much about Texas country life except for acquiring the obligatory too many dogs. The uncles don't say much to each other because there is no need to say much, they understand each other perfectly. Confronted with age, they seek out reckless behavior, unwilling to sit still and get older, unable to overtly give up on life. Walter's presence suddenly requires them to adapt to new purpose, and to take care of themselves, too, as they are faced with the issue of providing appropriate male role models so that their young nephew might one day become an appropriate man.

Despite the studio's description, this is not a "heartwarming" movie with a happy, fluffy resolution for all concerned. The characters must make choices, and not always easy ones. The valiant tales of adventure don't always conclude with happily-ever-after fairytale endings. It is not purely a comedy, but instead probes the depths of emotion. The adult audience will probably appreciate this movie the most, but it is an appropriate movie for pre-teens as well.

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111 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

Secondhand surprise

Author: Nezz from Nashville, TN
28 October 2003

This movie was worth-watching. The characters are well-drawn and sympathetic. Just as young Walter (Haley Joel Osment) gets to know his great uncles (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall), we are introduced to this pair of "Secondhand Lions". Just as Walter learns to trust these two eccentric strangers after a lifetime of lies from his untrustworthy mother, we are allowed to learn the lessons of life in pace with him. There are no plot tricks, just eye-widening revelations as the story unfolds at a satisfying pace.

This is not a small quiet story, however. There is the rumor of a hidden fortune of which, it seems, everyone from relatives to traveling salesmen has heard. There are hints that it was obtained through the uncles' adventures but also that it might be ill-gotten gains. Along with Walter, the audience discovers the truth of the rumor.

There is action, comedy, danger, acts of courage, defiance, and tragedy that is part of human frailty. It's wonderfully accomplished in a way that allows older children to enjoy it with their parents. You have characters with whom you can identify no matter what your stage in life.

The director skillfully weaves the past and the present and still manages to preserve the confirmation of story until the very end. I don't want to say too much about this movie or it will spoil the fun of experiencing/watching it. Don't miss this movie.

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71 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Gentle yet more substantial than a first viewing offers

7/10
Author: pwoods1 from Adelaide, South Australia
25 September 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very gentle film - not as gripping as Big Fish but in a similar genre - which is worth a second look and therefore a reappraisal.

Ostensibly a coming-of-age film, I saw it more as an abandoned child's (surely Walter is such) search for belonging: a search for affirmation that life is more than being cast-off as worthless by the person she/he loves, and therefore worth living. At one point Walter indicates that he is sick of being lied to by his mother, Mae, apparently always dumping him for the "new boyfriend" in her life. And thus we come to the crux of the movie.

"Secondhand Lions" refers as much to the curmudgeonly uncles, Garth and Hub, (eccentric characters wonderfully understated/underplayed by Michael Caine and Robert Duvall) as it does to the "used" lion that the brothers purchase. Walter first becomes fascinated by Garth's fantastical tales of Africa, but when Garth "misremembers" the rescue of Jasmine, the only love of his brother's life, Walter starts to question the truth behind their past. Indeed, having witnessed Hub's (apparent) sleepwalking, Walter doubts the sanity of his uncles.

Earlier, however, on arrival at their decaying home, the child has discovered a well-traveled cabin trunk; and, upon opening it, discovers sand covering a portrait of whom he later learns is Jasmine - the love of Hub's life. Later, in a show of bravado when he names the ageing "secondhand" lion "Jasmine", the threads of Hub's story come together and, intriguingly enough, when Walter appears to be leaving, it is Hub whom he fiercely hugs. In a sense, Hub's loss of Jasmine mirrors his own emptiness.

OK. It's gentle, but I offer that the constant (I would argue not intrusive) symbolism and allegories work. Walter exposes a pointless existence in as much as the brothers are waiting to die - and gives them a reason to live. And, of course, they live beyond his and their wildest dreams. But those dreams are shown, finally, as truth. The denouement, twee as it might seem, fits the script. The treasure/money which Walter's mother Mae told him to seek becomes the love/relationship which he needed.

(By the way, it's OK to cry. Big boys do that too. I did.)

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73 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

A Perfect Family Film

10/10
Author: The Gryphon from Palm Desert, California
23 January 2005

A classic. This is one of those male bonding movies one tends to cringe at nowadays, but there's no cringing here. Due to the wonderful script, direction and acting by all the principals, this one unfolds like a rose in bloom. Before you know it the movie has you in its grasp and the characters become 3-dimensional and their battles become yours as well. The plot is simple...a teenager is dumped on his great-uncles by his scheming mother who wants the kid to find where the uncles have hidden their fortune. The uncles, played by Michael Caine, sans British accent, and Robert Duvall, work well together as brothers slow to warm to the boy, played by Haley Joel Osment. Eventually the layers peel away and the boy learns about the earlier thrilling adventures of the uncles and begins to see them as role models. But then, are the stories true? Should the boy return to his mother? Should the uncles fight to keep him around? The ending had me in tears. Tears of happiness. A perfect film for the entire family.

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65 out of 75 people found the following review useful:

Put Your Hands Together, Clap and Cheer.

Author: tfrizzell from United States
27 October 2003

Cartoonist Josh Lucas (of "A Beautiful Mind") gets a phone call telling that his two great-uncles have been in an accident. Immediately we see the Lucas character in the form of young Haley Joel Osment as he is literally dropped off with great-uncles Michael Caine and Robert Duvall by lousy mother Kyra Sedgwick in the 1960s. It seems that the two supposedly have a huge fortune somewhere on their property in Texas and Sedgwick, along with several others, have been trying to find the treasures for themselves. Osment seems out-of-place completely at first and his two uncles appear to be cold and unfeeling, but soon Duvall is seen sleep-walking and acts like he is sword-fighting while he does. Osment has never seen anyone act this way before and he becomes curious. He finds a photo of the beautiful and exotic Emmanuelle Vaugier in the house's tower and his want to know the pasts of his uncles' builds. Caine tells Osment of a time at the start of World War I when the duo unwittingly became a part of the French Legion, fighting with the Allies during the war. The war comes and goes and Caine starts to tell of Duvall's love for Vaugier when he was a young man. Naturally she was also wanted by an evil sheik (Adam Ozturk) and thus he had to protect she and himself at all times. Eventually the stories conclude and Osment finds out how the two got their money. But could it be possible that what Caine has been conveying are just stories and not the true reality? "Secondhand Lions" (the title refers to an old lion that Duvall and Caine buy during the course of the picture) is one of those movies that makes you feel that there are still good people in Hollywood who really want to develop nice family-oriented films that cater to all age groups. Writer/director Tim McCanlies shows real potential here and Osment continues to amaze. He holds his own with legends Caine and Duvall from the word go. Osment, who is the most atypical youngster in Hollywood these days (never selling out to be in junk like "Freddy vs. Jason" or "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake), just keeps on growing and maturing as a performer. His range was amazing in "The Sixth Sense" and he has not lost his gift, instead he has cultivated it further. Definitely not a perfect film, but still a very enjoyable trip to the movies that stands tall during a year of sub-par movies. With all the shortcomings from Hollywood in 2003, the family films have been surprisingly the best productions by far. 4 stars out of 5.

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65 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Waking the Dead

10/10
Author: anderson-apryl from France
12 January 2005

I am very critical about movies, especially the ones which will pass before the eyes of my 9 & 7-yr old daughters, so I was extremely surprised and impressed with Secondhand Lions. I was washed away by the depth of this movie and challenged by what it presented. Tucked into the mystery of the uncles' past (unraveling in the moonlight) is a revelation of a life well-lived. What drives man to a life of adventure and where does he go when his body can't keep up? What, when, where determines how he passes the wisdom of the ages? Created in the image of God, we are challenged to be fully alive while we have the strength. "Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that man needs to believe in the most" and I won't spoil the movie for you by giving you the carrot. I will tell you that there is a sincere love for life in this story that is utterly compelling. Go read "Waking the Dead" and "If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat", watch "Secondhand Lions" with your most courageous friends and the loved ones you wish would be so fearless, and then meet me for coffee in Marseille. Bon courage à vivre!

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57 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

Heartwarming Family Movie

9/10
Author: flying-monkeys from USA
4 September 2004

I have been told by many people this was a great movie and one I needed to watch. Well finally I watched it today and it didn't disappoint me. It has so many great elements to it. I laughed in some parts and cried my eyes out in others. I loved the line "...died with his (or her) boots on." It's a great statement about living your life to the fullest and believing in the things that really matter like love and honor. The actors were fabulous. I think young Haley Joel Osment has a lot to offer films and I hope we see much more of him in the future. Michael Caine never disappoints me and I love his Texas accent in the film. Overall, this is truly one movie fit for all ages. A true heartwarming film with a great message for anyone who will hear it.

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40 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Heartwarming, wholesome family viewing

10/10
Author: headhunter46 from Madison, Wisconsin, USA
18 February 2005

This movie made us laugh, and cry. It touches on every aspect of growing up and growing old. It addresses the right way to live, and the wrong.

There's some humor from the crotchety old uncles and some sadness from a boy who is unfortunate to have an irresponsible mother.

There are swashbuckling sword fights and several surprises that keep it moving at a pleasant pace. If I tell you more it will ruin it. The surprises are what make it so special.

The less you know about this movie before watching it the better.

It left me feeling so good, I watched it again the very next night. It was a rental.

Unless you are a very hardened person, I guarantee you will laugh many times and even the toughest ones who NEVER cry at movies will have a scowl on their face at least once.

I plan to buy a version of this the first chance I get.

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50 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

And Now For Something Completely Different...

9/10
Author: Gavno (quixote2@ix.netcom.com) from Mad City, Wisconsin
5 April 2004

For a VERY long time I've been disgusted with most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood... too many movies with huge budgets and absolutely NO imagination or talent involved. Lately tho, the Hollywood system has slipped a bit, and a few films by SMART people working with nonformula scripts have been falling through the cracks. And they're a refreshing breeze for those of us that don't bother with "One Weekend Wonders" that generate monster box office receipts for two or three weeks, that involve the latest orgasm generator "stars" and a ton of explosives and guns... just to sink into oblivion afterwards, like TITANIC or PEARL HARBOR.

The LAST intelligent movie I saw was A MIGHTY WIND. Right on it's heels, we get SECONDHAND LIONS.

I've been a Robert Duval fan for a LONG time... there's more than a little bit of Sonny from THE APOSTLE, and a taste of Colonel "Bull" Meecham from THE GREAT SANTINI thrown into the character of Hub. He's done a Tour De Force job with the performance. WONDERFUL!!!

The biggest surprise in all of this tho was Michael Caine's take on playing a Texas redneck! It's hard to imagine that the impeccably English Spitfire squadron commander from BATTLE OF BRITAIN could pull off a crusty, aging Texan, but he DOES it beautifully. He even gets the accent down quite well!

This is a film that's a TON of fun from beginning to end. IMHO it's destined to become a classic, very much like Jean Sheppard's A CHRISTMAS STORY.

It's worth the trip. Pick it up, and you won't be sorry.

Gavno

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