Secondhand Lions

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Secondhand Lions
Review (7/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Secondhand Lions is the story of Walter (Haley Joel Osment), a young teenager who is dumped by his worthless mother (Kyra Sedgwick) on the doorstep of his two great uncles Garth (Michael Caine) and Hub (Robert Duvall). The grumpy old men are believed to have stashed away millions of dollars and the mother, along with every other Tom, Dick and Harry Knowles in the state of Texas, are trying to get their hands on their fortune. She hopes that after Walter spends the summer with Garth and Hub, the old farts will tell him where they are hiding the money and she and her son can live happily ever after. Walter is more concerned with how they got the money, than where they got the money.

Secondhand Lions is a movie with an almost fairy tale feeling to it. It has some elements of fantasy, some elements of humor, some action, some emotion, some adventure, some mystery, some great story-telling and a whole lot of other stuff like that. Hell, it even tries to give us a lesson in true love. It is a fun movie that just requires you to sit back and enjoy the two hours you are about to spend in the theatre and to not take anything you are about to see too seriously. The story is silly at times, but silly in a good way. The acting is silly at times but silly in an even better way. In my opinion, Robert Duvall's aging hero stole the show in this one. I enjoyed every last minute that he was on the screen and wished he would have been on it more than he was. He delivers some great lines and the scene of him kicking some grease-ball ass and then what he does with them afterwards is priceless. Michael Caine was solid as Duvall's slightly less courageous but still eccentric brother.

As for Haley Joel? Well, I had a problem with him. When he first opened his mouth on the screen I was somewhat shocked. Shocked at his crackling voice, now at the stage of puberty. It was a different voice than we have heard before but probably a voice that was appropriate for his character in the movie (although I might have preferred the whiney voice we have come to know and love as opposed to the half-man, half-boy one we got). That voice, I can live with. It is all a part of life. It is something that all of us half-men have to go through. It is something that cannot be avoided. His acting, on the other hand, I cannot forgive. I found at times that he overacted. When he cried, it seemed forced. When he laughed, it was not a real laugh. At other times, he was so unemotional that I wondered if I was watching his robot-child from A.I. or if I was watching the actual 14-year old Walter. His character didn't add a whole lot to the movie and at times was almost a distraction. The child in this movie should have been likeable, a sweet little kid that we could all pull for and hope for the best. Instead we got a robot. An overacting, stiff of a board robot. That was the difference between Secondhand Lions being a good movie and a really good movie. It is far from a great movie but had there been some emotional attachment to the young Walter, the experience would have been a lot more memorable. They could have given us a bit more of the crazy uncles too. These guys were a hoot every time they were on the screen with or without robot boy. The uncles should have been out and about around Texas a bit more too. They were confined mostly to scenes on their rundown old porch and not enough interaction with the public, which was too bad for us.

With all that being said, Secondhand Lions is a good movie. It is an enjoyable two hours, but not two hours that you will think is worthy of Oscars, Golden Globes, MTV Movie Awards and a couple of People's Choice Awards. It is just not that good. It is not the first class movie you might expect with such an impressive cast but Caine and Duvall have ensured that what we see is far from secondhand.

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