Something has lit a
family fueled fire under Hollywood's butt recently.
The number of quality family films churned out this year
is almost one hundred percent more than has been churned
out for the past three years. "Secondhand
Lions" falls into this quality category, but it still
has some elements that just drove me insane.
Haley Joel Osment (we'll get to him later) stars as
Walter. Walter is shy and still crammed down into
his shell. His irresponsible mother Mae (Kyra
Sedgewick) decides to lighten her load and drops him off
with his two overly eccentric, and recently wealthy,
uncles, Garth (Michael Caine) and Hub (Robert Duvall).
As Walter experiences his summer with the two old men, he
starts to unravel their mysterious pasts and put together
his somewhat awkward future. That is the dumbed down
version of the plot. Now, time for the in depth
analysis of the actors from the film.
What is up with Robert Duvall? He has been in more
films this year than his entire life -- "Gods and
Generals", "Assassination Tango",
"Open Range", and, now, "Secondhand
Lions". Is he slipping into that Robert DeNiro,
going from one pic a year to six pics a year, phase of his
life? I hope so, because he is on a role now that
"Gods and Generals" is almost totally forgotten.
He is the best thing about this film, performance wise.
He makes his character more likable and makes us want to
know more about his past. I think Duvall is just
perfect in roles like this.
Michael Caine never gives up; I will give him that.
He follows up his Academy Award nominated role in
"The Quiet American" with a sentimental family
comedy. He does a fine job too, except for that
terrible accent. He should have just not attempted
the accent, because it is a vocal disaster from beginning
to end. Thank God he is such a good actor or that
might have ruined his entire performance for me.
And, finally, Haley Joel Osment. Evidently, he is in
that Peter Brady young adult phase, where his voice sounds
like a mouse getting hit by a baseball bat.
Listening to him squeak and eek through the film was worse
than Caine's accent. And -- it may be just me -- but
"A.I." might have quite possibly been his last
good movie. I think he was a good actor, as a kid,
but I think the charm and innocence reveal and not so gifted
older actor with some serious awkward issues. I wish
him luck, but outlook not so good.
So, "Secondhand Lions" is a fine family film and
entertaining throughout, thanks largely to the
performances, if you can get past the voices. The
plot is fun, the sequencing is top notch, and the
direction reminded me of one of those early to mid
nineties family flicks. This was highly enjoyable
and you should take your kids to see it -- you will both