Secondhand Lions Movie Review
A great cast supplements a fun script in Secondhand Lions, an entertaining and lighthearted family film that has something for everyone.
Oscar nominees Haley Joel Osmet and Oscar winners Michael Caine and Robert Duvall lead the way as a young teenager and his adventurous uncles, respectively. Osmet plays Walter, who essentially is abandoned with his reclusive uncles for the summer. He soon picks up on the fact that his uncles have been all over the world and collected great wealth, and are not at all too happy about being "retired." But, did their money really come from an evil Arabian prince, or did they steal it from Al Capone 30 years earlier?
Secondhand Lions is one of those films that just doesn't need to work very hard to be fun, and yet it works at many - but not all - levels. In essence it is a family film, filled with riches, lighthearted comedy and some adventure, not to mention a lion. Nevertheless, with a cast like this, it easily appeals to older audiences as well, as does the comedy. Secondhand Lions is funny from beginning to end.
Osmet is the lead character, but the real stars of the show are Caine and Duvall. These two old men play so well off of each other that it is hard not to like them, and their characters. Duvall is especially fun to watch, and he must have had fun playing his character, because he essentially gets to be a 25-year old guy all over again. He gets to fire guns at salesmen, shoot fish for dinner and fight a group of teenagers single-handedly. Caine plays the more reserved of the two, but his old fashioned charms plays as a good Odd Couple match for Duvall.
Osmet is not nearly as effective as 12-year old Walter. Osmet, who has been incredible as a child in such films as The Sixth Sense, Pay it Forward and A.I., seems a little out of place here. He is 15 in real life, and while it is not uncommon for older people to play younger people, the role does not work well for him. Osmet has filled out, matured and ultimately gone through puberty since last time we saw him, and for him to play a shy 12-year old that cries and stutters a little bit just seemed awkward. He isn't terrible, but he isn't nearly as effective as he has been in previous films.
Secondhand Lions is an entertaining movie, but it does have its flaws. It lags in a few parts, especially near the end. The final couple minutes are rather pointless, and there are a few other stretches that seem to go on and on. More importantly, the flashbacks are nothing more than cheesy. The movie has many scenes that recount on the uncles' earlier days, but they do nothing but chop up the pace of the film. Almost all of the scenes, which account for most of the action-adventure in the movie, are incredibly stupid, not at all funny, and not even remotely exciting. Who knows - younger audiences may enjoy them - but the real prize of the film is the combined performances of Duvall and Caine, not a look back at their younger selves.
Secondhand Lions is not a movie without flaws, but it is funny and easy to watch. It has elements for all ages, and deserves much more recognition than it has received.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.