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Secondhand Lions
2003 - PG - 100 Mins.
Director: Tim McCanlies
Producer: David Kirschner, Corey Sienega and Scott Ross
Written By: Tim McCanlies
Starring: Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick, Nicky Katt
Review by: David Trier
The boy’s eyes well with tears… we slowly move in until finally, a whisper… “I see old people.”

When Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is left on his uncles’ doorstep by his irresponsible mother (Kyra Sedgewick), he is not greeted warmly. The wealthy and eccentric brothers have no use for family, who only ever come to get their money. Hub (Robert Duvall) never recovered from the loss of his wife and his adventurous past, making him a fiery grouch. Garth (Michael Caine), the bespectacled storyteller, has always been comfortable as Hub’s sidekick. So now they pretty much spend their days on the ranch, shooting at traveling salesmen, waiting to die. But with the arrival of Walter and his youthful curiosity, it sparks old memories and a new passion for life. Walter learns about being a man, and the uncles realize their youth is not all lost.

I think I’m gonna be sick. I just drank an hour and forty minutes of pure sugar. No cake, just icing. Secondhand Lions is not a “bad” movie, but the subject matter is so derivative and the dialogue and plot are so corny, it is simply unforgivable. How many times is Osment going to hug these old jackasses?

On the upside, Caine and Duvall make an entertaining pair. Caine may have reinvented the Texan accent a bit, but his emotional presence is always spot on. Duvall may be playing the same no-fear character he played in Open Range, but it’s a character that’s generally fun to watch. It may be overdone, but I always enjoy watching an old man kick some ass and nobody does it quite like Robert Duvall.

It’s a shame that Haley Joel Osment’s body has grown since The Sixth Sense, because his face hasn’t and he’s at times a little hard to look at. The character of Walter doesn’t have much personality and his doe-eyed behavior nears close to annoying. However, Osment dives in to each scene with strong intent and maintains his reputation as a good young actor. Kyra Sedgwick delivers well as the self-absorbed mother that’s easy to hate. Nicky Katt’s talents are wasted on an amusing but short-lived character.

The film makes a rather amateur mistake in telling most of its story as a flashback… within a flashback. The bookends do little to give the story depth, except to justify a few plot points at the film’s closing. Not that this is worth the price of admission, but the end credits are superbly done.

There are some adorable scenes and some funny moments, although these moments only seemed to trigger true open-mouthed laughter from the annoying old woman sitting next to me in the theater. I think audiences will want this to be a good movie because I think just the idea of Caine and Duvall together is a good one. But with a plot as trite as this one and so many overly-sentimental tear-jerking moments, Secondhand Lions is a cute, light, fluffy ol’ disappointment.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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