A Film Review By Jason L. King
|Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, language and action violence
Starring:Haley Joel Osment, Michael Caine, Robert Duvall
Directed By:Tim McCanlies
In my last few years of indulging myself in the film world, I have found there are few films out there that can successfully pull off a wide variety of tasks, and appeal to a wide variety of people. Many times the films filled with Big named stars prove to is nothing more than films bragging big named stars and lacking in substance. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you find films that try so hard to be something, but just because of the horrible acting or the horrible directing they fall short of being anything. In between these two spectrums is Secondhand Lions, the latest Disney funfest…
We are introduced to Walter (Haley Joel Osment) a young boy whose floozy of a mother leaves him off with his two great Uncles (Michael Caine, and Robert Duvall) as she skips across the country in hopes of finding a better life. But Walter is in for a surprise as he finds out his two great uncles are millionaires but have absolutely nothing, and the last thing they want is a pesky little boy annoying them. But as time passes, the little boy starts to grow on the old men, and together they begin to experience life and rekindle past adventures in ways that they never had dreamed of.
Now while this film doesn’t have a lot of bragging rights for an original story, it is a lot of fun to watch. It has a plot that is extremely easy to follow, and doesn’t try to lead you astray one bit. It’s got a down home, all around “good” feel to it, the type of feeling that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But other than the fuzzy feeling it gives you, the story or the characters don’t really bring any more emotion to the screen. Secondhand Lions succeeds in entertaining but will quickly fall short in long term remembrance value. Although I was entertained, I don’t really see it as anything I would see a vast majority of the people running out and buying when it comes available.
Now I will be the first to admit I love watching Robert Duvall almost as much as I enjoy watching Kevin Costner, and Julia Stiles (both weird guilty pleasures of mine). I was in heaven watching Duvall and Costner work together in Open Range and if they teamed up with Julia Stiles even if it was to read the New York City phone book, I would watch it twice in the theater and then go buy it on DVD. But as I tried to put my love for Duvall on the side burner this go round so you wouldn’t think I am Duvall Biased, I realized I just couldn’t do it. Duvall has the charisma that other actors now days can only dream of having. In fact the more old and grizzled he has become the more wonderful he is to watch. Even in a simple feel good flick Duvall snatches up every chance he gets to take command of a scene and carry you through the movie on his shoulders. The man has a near unmatchable charisma. But when God made great actors of Duvall’s generation he also gave Hollywood Michael Caine. Caine does a nice job of complementing Duvall and vice versa. It is a joy to watch these two men work together in a flick, even if in the end result is a Hollywood Fluff movie.
Now as for young Haley Joel Osment, well he isn’t so young anymore. In fact he’s somewhere in that stage where his voice hasn’t decided if he is still a little boy or a young man, and he’s probably starting to get hair in really weird places. His future in acting is still uncertain, and Secondhand Lions is a film that doesn’t really help or hurt his reputation as a child actor crossing the bridge of becoming a real actor. It will be interesting to see Osment in the next few years, he will either excel and become a huge star, or who knows he might wig out, grow a weird goatee, knock over a liquor store, get arrested for possession of marijuana and then turn into the Dickie Roberts Character David Spade was playing earlier this season in “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.” The young boy has potential; it’s just a question of how he goes about using it in the next few years.
Acting aside, the rest of the film is solid. Directing is not bad, Director Tim McCanlies, does an excellent job of drawing out the adventure and the emotion out of each scene, and also credit can be given for him as a writer, for creating such a lighthearted fun coming of age story. But the fact of the matter is, as stated before, the film lacks much remembrance value, and perhaps even rewatch value, just because of it’s overdone coming of age story that really brings nothing new to the table. The sheer mediocrity of plot line, and unresolved things, such as where exactly did the old timers get their money from make the story seem to have a few more holes than the audience might like to see in an “excellent film.”
None the less, I really think Secondhand Lions might be one of the better films to come out of the month of September. When it comes to finding a good down to earth family film with great acting and a decent story, they are hard to come by. Secondhand Lions gives you both of them in one nice neat little package. If nothing else, it’s worth a rental when you are in a mood for a feel good flick.