Secondhand Lions Parent Guide
Funny and touching, the script and the amazing performances speak volumes about the importance of family relationships.
Parent Movie Review
Garth (Michael Caine) and Hub (Robert Duvall) aren’t just crotchety-they’re downright antisocial. Perched on the front porch of their Texas home (a rundown two-and-a-half storey that would have been attractive to the Addams Family) each with a shotgun on his lap, they enthusiastically await the high point of their day: The eager parade of door-to-door salesmen who were common visitors in the 1950s period this movie inhabits.
Word has it these two guys are sitting on a pile of money, so no vendor of merchandise can resist the ultimate challenge of trying to sell to the ornery brothers even if it means dodging their gunshots.
Family members receive a similar greeting from the pair who mysteriously resurfaced after decades of estrangement. When a little-known niece (Kyra Sedgwick) drops by with the expectation of ditching her son Walter (Haley Joel Osment) for the summer, the men’s reaction is clear: They don’t need to be taking care of some sissy-boy. But mom is determined to step over the unwelcome mat. Like many of the other relatives, she has hopes her boy can find the hidden loot.
Walter has no choice but to make the best of the hostile relationship, however his heart is far more set on finding a family foundation than the family fortune. His meek yet no-nonsense candor matches wits with the two stern old men, as he demands a relationship with his great-uncles.
If nothing else, the kid gets credit for courage. Uncles Hub and Garth are tough old codgers, and we see their tenacity when a few teen punks try to push them around in the general store. The hardened war veterans don’t hesitate to cause a ruckus and Hub’s military training easily subdues the gang, who he later has over for dinner. There he takes the opportunity to share his lecture on “What Every Boy Needs to Know About Being a Man.” Moments like this, along with frequent mild profanity, contribute to Lions’ PG rating-yet the content is justified given the character and scope of the movie.
Funny and touching, Secondhand Lions speaks volumes about the importance of family relationships. It also provides a rare opportunity for younger audiences to enjoy the incredible talents of Caine and Duvall, two Hollywood veterans who usually appear in R-rated fare. Just as astonishing is Osment’s wide-eyed innocence and strong screen presence. This young actor meets (and sometimes even exceeds) the abilities of his seasoned co-stars.
For mature children and teens, this coming-of-age story (for both young and old alike) will likely provide the perfect mix of softness and bite-much like a Secondhand Lion.Directed by Tim McCanlies. Starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick. Running time: 107 minutes. Theatrical release September 18, 2003. Updated July 17, 2017
Secondhand Lions Parents' Guide
Often men have a difficult time grieving the loss of someone they love. How was Hub’s life affected by his loss? Do you know anyone who has paid years of their life because they were unable to accept a difficult situation? How did Walter help Hub overcome this situation?
Hub’s speech about being a man includes this dialogue: “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, virtue, and courage mean everything; that money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil. That true love never dies. Doesn’t matter if they’re true or not. A man should believe in those things anyway. Because they are the things worth believing in.” You may want to discuss these attributes with the men-and women-in your family.
The most recent home video release of Secondhand Lions movie is February 2, 2004. Here are some details…
Ever wondered just what it takes to get a script made into a movie? The Secondhand Lions DVD extras includes an interesting 26 minute insiders peek into the screenplay’s journey from Director/Writer Tim McCanlies’ computer in Texas to the final okay from Hollywood movie executives. Considering it took nearly a decade to bring the story to film, Haley Joel Osment, who talks about growing up on screen, would have been far too young to play the awkward adolescent along side the legendary Michael Caine and Robert Duvall.
A behind-the-scene’s commentary about the movie credits the more experienced stars with encouraging not only Haley’s work but that of several young local actors as well. While there are no lion hunting games or funny bloopers to catch the attention of younger viewers, there is an extended alternate ending that introduces additional characters and contains a lot more pomp and pageantry than the film’s screened ending. Deleted scenes, director’s notes and numerous TV spots round out the DVD’s featurettes.—Kerry Bennett
Related home video titles:
The unwanted Anne looks for a home under the roof of two strangers in Anne of Green Gables. A powerful kinship develops when a young boy befriends the peculiar old man living upstairs, in Hearts in Atlantis.