Second Hand Lions – First Rate Movie

Occasionally a film ends and the audience stands and applauds. “Second Hand Lions” is such a film.
Fronted by Academy Award winners Robert Duvall and Michael Caine as a pair crotchety, old-timers who while their golden years away by taking pot-shots at door-to-door sales men, “Second Hand Lions” is a Saturday matinee adventure, wrapped in a tender and poignant, coming-of-age story surrounded by a coming-to-grips-with-aging story. It’s Indiana Jones meets Cocoon meets Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s an old-fashioned, fun, funny, grab-‘em-by-the-heart-and-don’t-let-go kind of movie that Hollywood stopped making about forty years ago.
Haley Joel Osment stars as Walter, an understandably dysfunctional kid who is dropped off (read ‘deserted’) by his floozy mother at the remote, ramshackled home of his two great-uncles, Garth (Caine) and Hub (Duvall). Although the odd trio have little in common, over the course of the summer they begin to form an uncommon bond, as Walter witnesses Hub’s bravado and is drawn into Garth’s tall tales of exotic adventures in far off lands.
Osment, who is making the treacherous transition from amazingly talented kid star (Sixth Sense; A.I) to amazingly talented teen star is simply perfect as the awkward, gawky, geeky, shy, and pathetic Walter. The forlorn looks, the cracking, onset of puberty voice, the puppy-dog eyes – Osment is, well…amazing. Caine serves as the straight man and provides the backstory, while Duvall plays the irascible, cantankerous, bellicose old coot with a heart of gold.
“Second Hand Lions” is a hero’s journey of sorts. It is about earning your spurs, and earning respect; about becoming a man, and accepting the responsibilities of manhood – no matter how old you are. It is about honor. And courage. And believing that Good will always triumph over Evil. And that true love never dies.
Rated PG for mostly cartoon-variety violence, and some mild swearing (the kind your grandmother always fussed at your grandfather for using), “Second Hand Lions” is easily one of the most quietly enjoyable films of the year.
Bonus Note: Fans of the long-defunct “Bloom County” comic strip – stay through the credits to view some absolutely fabulous sketches by Berkley Breathed.


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