Secondhand Lions

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This article is about the film. For the stage musical, see Secondhand Lions: A New Musical.
Secondhand Lions
SecondhandLions.jpg
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Tim McCanlies
Produced by David Kirschner
Scott Ross
Corey Sienega
Written by Tim McCanlies
Starring Haley Joel Osment
Robert Duvall
Michael Caine
Kyra Sedgwick
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited by David Moritz
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $74.8 million[1]

Secondhand Lions, a 2003 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Tim McCanlies, tells the story of an introverted young boy (Haley Joel Osment) who is sent to live with his eccentric great-uncles (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) on a farm in Texas.

The film received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics and the general public, and grossed $74 million on a $30 million budget.

The film has now generated a cult following.

Plot[edit]

14-year-old Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is left by his irresponsible mother, Mae (Kyra Sedgwick), to live for the summer with his reclusive, bachelor great-uncles, Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine). Despite living in a ramshackle Texan farm, they are said to have a secret fortune and are made the target of every travelling salesman. They in their turn sit on the porch with shotguns, making the salesmen their targets.

Walter is given a room in the attic and is not welcomed at first, until they realise he annoys other gold-digging relatives who visit with their children. For his part, Walter persuades his uncles to try spending some of their money, generally disastrously. Packets of seeds to plant a vegetable garden turn out all to be corn. Then they order a lion for an animal target and end up with an aging, tame lioness which they turn over to Walter as a pet. Later it is released by accident and takes to the cornfield, which becomes her new "jungle" home. While loading 50-pound bags of Lion Chow, Hub passes out and is taken to hospital. On leaving, they encounter four Greasers at a road side store who draw flick knives on Hub but are easily beaten by him in a fight.

A subplot develops round the photograph of a beautiful woman that Walter finds in the attic. In a series of corny flashbacks, Garth tells Walter the story of their African past, during which Hub fell in love with an Arab princess promised to a powerful Sheik. When they married, the Sheik put a price on Hub's head, keeping them in constant peril from assassins. Finally Hub won a duel against the Sheik but spared his life, warning him to cease the manhunt. When Walter asks to hear more from Hub, his uncle reveals that Jasmine died in childbirth. Hub then returned to the French Foreign Legion, until he retired with Garth to their farm, where they are resignedly waiting to die. Walter asks Hub for confirmation, since his mother always lies to him. Hub responds with a piece of his "What Every Boy Needs to Know ..." speech, that the actual truth is not as important as belief in ideals. Walter then asks Hub to promise to be around to give him the rest of the speech when he's old enough and Hub grudgingly agrees.

Late one evening, Walter trails Garth and discovers they have a room filled with money underneath the barn. On another night, Walter's mother and her current boyfriend, a supposed "private investigator", arrive. While the uncles sleep, Stan and Mae demand that Walter reveal the location of his uncles' fortune, claiming they were actually bank robbers. When Walter chooses to believe in his uncles instead, Stan pins Walter down and begins beating him. Sensing that he is in danger, the lioness emerges from the cornfield and mauls Stan. Awakened by the ruckus, Hub and Garth find the old lioness has died of heart failure defending her “cub”.

The next day, Walter leaves with his mother. Once on the road, Mae explains that Stan will be staying with them to recuperate, but Walter asks her instead to "do something that's best for me for once" and abandons her. While Hub and Garth are delighted to see him back, Walter insists there have to be changes: his uncles must involve themselves in his education and live carefully, as he wants them to die of old age.

Seventeen years later, Walter is alerted by the sheriff of his uncles' deaths from a failed flying stunt with their biplane. Arriving at the farm, he is given his uncles' will declaring "The kid gets it all. Just plant us in the damn garden, with the stupid lion." A helicopter bearing the logo Sahara Petroleum then touches down near the homestead and a man steps out with his young son, explaining that he heard about Hub and Garth's deaths on the radio. He had recognized the names as the two Americans in tales told to him when young by his grandfather, "a very wealthy sheik". When the man's young son asks Walter if his uncles were real, Walter confirms, "Yeah. They really lived."

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Box Office[edit]

The film grossed $17,235,890 in its domestic opening weekend, debuting in second place, and finished with $51,768,334 domestically and $25,345,567 outside of America for a total gross of $76.2 million against a budget of $30 million.

Critical Reception[edit]

The movie received generally positive reviews from critics, praising the acting of the leads, the soundtrack, and story, although some critics thought it was too slow to be interesting.

Randy Horrison of RogerEbert.com gave it 3/4, stating, "It's a fantastic male bonding movie, that most guys can relate to, it may not be as good as Big Fish, but it's very close." The movie holds a rating of 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a review of 7.6/10 on IMDB.

Awards[edit]

Haley Joel Osment was nominated for a Young Artist Award for his performance as Walter Caldwell in the film. The film was also nominated for Best Live Action Family Film at the Phoenix Arizona Film Critics Society Awards. [2]

Closing Credits[edit]

Berkeley Breathed produced the cartoon art for the closing credits of the film, which featured a strip called Walter and Jasmine. The panels he drew for the movie appear in Opus: 25 Years of His Sunday Best', in which Breathed terms them "the comic strip that never was".

References[edit]

External links[edit]