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Secondhand Lions
By Kellie MacDonald


Secondhand Lions is a delightful and charming coming-of-age story that follows an introverted boy as he spends an amazing summer with his two wealthy and eccentric great-uncles. As they recount their escapade-filled lives, the aging adventurers ignite the boy's spirit and rekindle their own. The Parents Television Council is happy to award Secondhand Lions the PTC Seal of Approval because it tells a great story for families without the use of sex, graphic violence, or excessive coarse language. 

 

Garth and Hub (MICHAEL CAINE and ROBERT DUVALL) are two former globetrotters who have returned to their boyhood home after 40 years of adventure in hopes of retiring into obscurity. The men believe that they are washed up, and have become creaky and cranky in their old age. Their only enjoyment seems to come from scaring off the traveling salesmen who have heard rumors of their wealth.  When their fourteen year-old great-nephew, Walter (HALEY JOEL OSMENT), is dumped with the two aging bachelors for the summer, their impending demise is postponed.  Walter arrives timid and scared, and full of doubts and questions. The discovery of a picture of a beautiful woman in an attic chest leads Walter on a path of discovery. Who was the exotic and beautiful woman in the picture?  How is she connected to Uncle Garth and Uncle Hub? Who are these two strange men? Where have they been for forty years? Are they really crazy? Are they really rich?

 

Walter discovers that his uncles Garth and Hub belonged to the French Foreign Legion, and spent their adult lives traveling to exotic locales and performing noble deeds. Walter learns that the beautiful woman in the photograph is Hub's long lost love, Princess Jasmine. Hub still pines for the Princess, and Quixotically fights for her every night while he sleepwalks.

 

Walter has a hard time believing Garth's captivating tales of adventure, but the stories are so vivid that he yearns for them to be real. As Walter learns about his uncles' exciting past, he encourages them to recapture their youth and the men rediscover their love for the outrageous and outlandish. The two uncles become Walter's father-figures and teach him about honor, adventure and what it takes to become a man.

 

Secondhand Lions is rated PG because of thematic elements. Uncles Hub and Garth are cranky old men who have soft hearts under their gruff exteriors.  They use minor curse words like "crap," "hell," and "damn" and engage in fighting and other dangerous stunts. The two men shoot shotguns and rifles (occasionally at traveling salesmen) and Uncle Hub gets into a bar brawl with a group of young thugs. This behavior is to demonstrate that they are still strong and vital. Regardless, the perils of guns and fighting may need to be discussed with your child. The uncles are shown (in flashbacks) as youths fighting under fantastic circumstances. These swashbuckling scenes are pure fantasy and reminiscent of an Errol Flynn movie.  In another scene, Walter's mom return's to the uncle's farm with her abusive new boyfriend. The abusive man is mildly mauled by the old lion when he threatens to harm Walter, and this scene may be a bit scary for children under 8 years old. There is no sex in this film, and the sweet love story between Hub and Princess Jasmine is thoughtfully presented. 

 

Secondhand Lions will appeal to audiences of all ages because it features the talents of some of the most talented and thought-provoking actors in the entertainment industry. Academy Award winners, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, star as Garth and Hub, two crotchety and cranky brothers whose amazing tales of adventure and suspense entrance and ignite the imagination of their young nephew Walter. Academy Award nominee, Haley Joel Osment stars as Walter -- a shy teen caught somewhere between childhood and manhood. Kyra Sedgwick co-stars as Walter's man-chasing mom, who thinks a man is her only ticket to a better life for her and her son.

 

Children will love the film's fantastical fighting scenes as well as the menagerie of animals that inhabit the farm.  Adults will enjoy the romance story between Hub and Jasmine as well as the excellent performances by the amazing cast. Haley Joel Osment delivers a masterful performance, blending the wide-eyed curiosity and a spirit of a child with the frustration and awkwardness of a boy desperate to be a man. He is certainly one of the finest young actors in Hollywood. Michael Caine and Robert Duvall are experts in their craft and have a mischievous twinkle in their eyes that is proof positive that age is only a number.  It is a joy to see these two men work together. Osment, Caine, and Duvall are perfectly cast in this family-friendly film, and it is a treat to see them lend their talents to this well-written and directed story. 

 

The Parents Television Council is proud to award Secondhand Lions the PTC Seal of Approval Secondhand Lions is a gem of a movie and is perfect for families with older children who are too wise for animated fairy tales, but who are not ready for mature themes. Secondhand Lions presents complex and engaging themes that will certainly evoke conversation between parents and children. This is a wonderful family movie and one that parents and children will both enjoy.     

 

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