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Secondhand Lions Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/20/2003

The whole world is watching little Haley Joel Osment grow up.  Four years ago, he was one of the youngest actors ever to be nominated for an Oscar for The Sixth Sense.  Now 15 years old, he is starting to become a man, and he will try to remain an A-list actor hopefully.  With Secondhand Lions, his voice may be cracking, but his acting is still in good shape.

 

Cartoonist Walter (Josh Lucas) gets a call concerning something that has happened to his two great-uncles, Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine) McCaan.  He immediately flashes back to the first summer he came to stay with them.  It is in Texas in the Ď60s, and Walterís widowed mother Mae (Kyra Sedgwick) takes the 14-year-old Walter (Osment) to live with the two crazy men while she goes to court-reporting school.  She encourages him to look into the rumor that they are stinking rich.  They had just returned to the area after being in Africa for 40 years, and now they were living the simple life with their five dogs and pet pig.  They donít really want to watch him, but they agree to it, though they let him know that he is pretty much on his own there.  They also donít mind watching him because he seems to be the only relative not after their money, unlike his distant family relatives Ralph and Helen (Michael OíNeill and Deirdre OíConnell) and their three kids, who suck up to them all the time, hoping that they will get their inheritance.  Walter is bored there at first, because they donít have a telephone or a TV.  Their source of entertainment is shooting at traveling salesmen who stop by.  One night, he sees Hub out by the lake sleepwalking.  Before Walter can wake Hub up, Garth stops him.  He starts telling Walter the story of their adventures in Africa, which eventually includes the reason behind Hubís sleepwalking and the way they got rich.  A young Hub (Christian Kane) and a young Garth (Kevin Michael Haberer) had just gotten out of World War I and they join the French Foreign Legion.  Hub meets an Arabian princess named Jasmine (Emmanuelle Vaugier), and the two fall in love at first sight.  She is engaged to the Sheik (Adam Ozturk), and he does not like Hub.  Hub has to fight off many of the Sheikís soldiers in an Indiana Jones-like fashion.  Though highly far-fetched, the stories were entertaining to Walter.  Since it didnít look like his mom was coming back any time soon, they passed the time.  Walter before long learns that his mom has lied to him about court-reporting school and is actually in Las Vegas with her new boyfriend, Stan (Nicky Katt.)  He fortunately starts having fun with the two old coots.  They start a garden with seeds that they think are various vegetables, but are really all just corn.  They buy a lion to go safari hunting, but it turns out to be an old lion from the circus that isnít very ferocious.  As the summer goes on, he begins to hear all of the stories, and slowly starts to believe them.

 

I thought the stories that Garth told Walter had the right amount of outrageousness.  Some might think that they are a little too hard to believe, but the ending of the movie and their everyday lives might prove otherwise.

 

The performances were great by most of the cast.  As I said before, Osment was good in this movie.  Iím not saying that he (or anyone else) will get an Oscar nod for it, but it was good.  Duvall had the right amount of toughness and sweetness in his role.  The only one who didnít convince me was Caine.  I know he is a great actor, but he just couldnít convince me that he was a Texan.  He couldnít hide his British accent, and he just didnít look like he was from Texas.

Secondhand Lions is a good film that you can take your kids to without being bored yourself.  Some might find it a little excessive in the Africa flashbacks, but I thought that was all part of the fun.  As far as Osment goes, I donít think he is heading towards Dickie Roberts territory anytime soon.

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