How would you like to make millions while you party away your time? That’s what Kyra Sedgewick’s character hopes for in her latest scheme when she drops off her 14-year old son Walter (Haley Joel Osment) at the ranch of two uncles he’s never met. Legend has it that Uncles Hub and Garth (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine, respectively) have a fortune hidden away, and it’s Walter’s responsibility to find it. He doesn’t want the job; instead, he walks around with an empty, dazed look about him, wishing he had a mother who actually cared. Meanwhile, his uncles shoot at overeager salesmen and gold digging relatives.
This main plot of “Secondhand Lions” tries so hard to be quirky that it often fails to involve the viewer. Thankfully, Garth, as he warms up to young Walter, begins to weave a story of the two brothers when they were young and in the French Foreign Legion.
Director Tim McCanlies shows us pieces of this throughout the movie in a comic style that matches the best moments of “The Princess Bride.”
Caine, hilariously cast against type, and Duvall, as solid and dependable as always, are at the top of their game. As they snipe and grouse their way through dialogue that, often times, just isn’t witty, we still can’t help but smile, and scene in which Duvall’s character handily beats the tar out of four punks is not to be missed. Uneven at best, “Lions” receives 2 out of 5 for the main film and 4 out of 5 for Garth’s stories, giving it a solid 3 out of 5 grumpy old men.
Pros: Duvall and Caine; a great middle section.
Cons: Too quirky for its own good.
Review Rating: 3 out of 5 grumpy old men.
“Secondhand Lions” (2003)
109 Minutes; USA
Rated PG for thematic material, language and action violence.
Michael Caine (Garth)
Robert Duvall (Hub)
Haley Joel Osment (Walter)
Kyra Sedgwick (Mae)
Nicky Katt (Stan)
Josh Lucas (Adult Walter)
Directed by: Tim McCanlies
Viewing Format: Theater
(Originally published on SciFiWatch)