Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

Secondhand Lions /

Rated: PG

Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Kyra Sedgwick, Nicky Katt
Directed by: Tim McCanlies
Produced by: David Kirschner, Scott Ross, Corey Sienega
Written by: Tim McCanlies
Distributor: New Line Cinema


     I’m not sure what’s worse—being gravely disappointed by a movie or suffering through one that you knew was going to be bad walking into it. To be honest, I’d have rather seen the torturous My Boss’s Daughter a second time, than experience Secondhand Lions for the first. I had high hopes for this movie; the cast is great and the studio behind it is even better. To my displeasure, Secondhand Lions is a conventionally unsettling piece of work that will only satisfy the very youngest of audiences. If the names Caine, Duvall, and Osment weren’t a part of the credits, it would’ve been released directly to home video. Ironically, it’ll come across as a better, funnier, and livelier motion picture in that format. Secondhand Lions is only for those who fall into the target audience. Anyone else will leave the theatre, feeling more than just a little let down.

     Haley Joel Osment plays Walter—a nerdy little kid, who doesn’t know how to smile—left to live with his great-uncles for the summer by his mother, Mae (Kyra Sedgwick). Mae is an irresponsible tramp, who claims to be going to court reporting school for the season that she spends away from her son, while she is really headed off to pick up another boyfriend in Las Vegas.

     Walter’s two great-uncles Hub and Garth (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) supposedly have millions of dollars stashed away, which they obtained when they were living in various foreign countries for nearly forty years. No one knows how they struck it rich, however; everything could be completely made up, as untrue as a fairytale. They don’t act like millionaires; between shooting at every salesman’s car that passes by and hunting for their every meal, Hub and Garth appear to be your average old hillbillies. As the summer progresses, Walter learns more about the two men, and they teach him several life-lessons. Secondhand Lions is certainly a cinematic journey, but it’s an unexciting one. The plot is dull and contrived; the audience never feels exhilarated. This is just one of the countless films, released this year, that’ll only be worth watching when it comes onto cable TV.

     Much of the reason why Secondhand Lions is usually unsuccessful in engaging the audience is because of the pitiful storytelling abilities of director Tim McCanlies. The way he utilizes flashbacks, to show us the past adventures of Hub and Garth, is utterly despicable. While the contents of these flashbacks aren’t interesting in the first place, their context is completely nightmarish. The violent change in tone is a total disruption to the movie, and ruins much of the sugar-coated sweetness of the following scenes.

     The performances are good, but make no mistake, nearly everyone in this movie is miscast. Caine does what he can with his role, but his image is the exact opposite of the one that his character was intended to have. Duvall is subtle, but never effective, mostly because of the ghastly dialogue that his character has. Osment’s work is spectacular, considering the fact that he’s playing a character five years younger than he is. Walter’s not exactly the most pleasurable character to watch, but the fifteen-year-old’s performance is stimulating enough to keep us interested. Kyra Sedgwick is about the only one that fits her role perfectly, but her acting leaves much to be desired. Why so many fabulous talents chose such a dopey and disposable movie to star in is beyond me.

    All in all, Secondhand Lions will be worth watching when HBO begins to air it regularly in a year or two, but it certainly couldn’t be called passable entertainment. We’ve seen the same concept, portrayed superiorly to Secondhand Lions, in other family films. Do yourself a favor—skip this one for now—see Freaky Friday, instead.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale