He Said/She Said #14: Secondhand Lions
by: Nathan Swank and Rebeca Surber
He Said/She Said is a bi-weekly column where a male and female reviewer from the site team up to debate the merits of a particular film.
What is this movie? I don’t get it. Who is the target audience? It’s far too boring to be a kid’s movie and far too stupid and sophomoric to be a movie for adults. I think the big sell is Michael Cain, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment, which among them have 13 Academy Award Nominations and 3 wins. Haley Joel has only one of those (SIXTH SENSE), but is probably the most known. However, he is absolutely horrible in this film and overacts terribly. I think he was trying way too hard. Every reaction was a dumbfound look or forced emotion. Seriously, this is some of the worst acting I have ever seen. It’s no wonder that he has not worked in the last seven years since this movie came out. I actually think all his previous works were great so I don’t think he is a bad actor but his performance in SECONDHAND LIONS is undoubtedly bad. Michael Cain doesn’t fair too much better, I can hear his British accent seep through his attempt at a Texan drawl every now and then. Robert Duvall is the only one who seems to be working but that doesn’t matter because THIS STORY IS POINTLESS!
An unfit mother drops her son off to live in the country with two kooky uncles. She tells him to get close to them and find their gold. The boy watches the uncles be slightly crazy (fly planes and shoot at salesman, who doesn’t want to do that) and listens to a story about their adventures in Africa as one of them finds true love. The flashbacks are uninspiring, the characters lack intelligence or motivation and the production value is worse than a made for TV after school special. I’m angry for watching this.
How can anyone NOT like this movie? It is so cute! SECONDHAND LIONS is a movie that sucks me in anytime it is on TV or I feel the need to add it to my Netflix queue. Two allegedly wealthy brothers, Garth and Hub (Michael Cain and Robert Duvall respectively), spend their days shooting at traveling salesmen and fighting off advances of money hungry relatives find their world upside down when their great-nephew, Walter, (Haley Joel Osment) moves in. These two brothers are not used to a relative who isn’t money hungry like abandoned Walter who is looking for acceptance, love and a place to call home.
At first using Walter to annoy the gold digging relatives we see two tough, weathered men find a soft spot in their hearts for him. At the suggestion of Walter, Garth and Hub deviate from shooting at the salesmen to testing the peddled goods. They discover, at times, buying the wares is more fun than using the salesmen as shooting targets. When Walter’s mother (Kyra Sedgwick) returns for him and they leave, I get all sappy seeing the gruff men hold back their sadness. This film ends in a fashion that usually gets on my nerves, everything wrapping up nicely with a big red bow: Were the stories Walter heard all his life from his eccentric uncles true? Did they get their money from robbing banks, mafia ties or steal from a sheik?
Semi-bad acting aside, I think it is an adorable film with happy laughs. Plus, the money hungry relatives are a stitch to watch. When they visit Hub in the hospital and hear the news that “he’s no longer with us” is priceless. This story is pointless only if you do not have a heart.