Secondhand Lions (2003)

Published: Jan 23, 2012 |Updated: Sep 7, 2023


Walter, the Boy, is farmed out to two gruff old relatives, who allegedly have a huge fortune from their younger adventures. Although initially baffled and scared by these two eccentrics, Walter learns their secrets and adopts them as his guardians.

Genre Drama
Production year 2003
Director Tim McCanlies
Male actors Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Haley Joel Osment

Secondhand Lions

Often men in movies are portrayed as somewhat incomplete characters – the fumbling dad in the family comedy, the hard-ass action hero, the angst-ridden sensitive New Age ‘guy’ and so on. What chance does a teenager boy, moving into manhood, have of becoming a Jason Statham-type? (Not that I think it is even desirable)

What ‘Secondhand Lions’ shows is how men are complex characters, battling their own demons, protecting those in their care – albeit somewhat reluctantly at first – while hanging on to what is worthwhile to pass on to the next generation.

The story centres on Walter, of ‘coming -of-age’ -age, and how he settles into an initially uneasy but ultimately warm and inspiring relationship with his two elderly uncles. These two men have a lived a full life, and their history has profoundly shaped who they are.

Living with the his uncles and hearing about of the adventures of their youth Walter learns about strength and sensitivity, the dichotomy and the tension of what mature manhood is. This duality can be in fact so difficult to live with that it could be argued that Hub and Garth, the uncles, each show a predominant aspect of the balancing act.

‘Secondhand Lions’ provides an entertaining (it is a family favourite) yet a thought-provoking and a challenging story of manhood – one life ready to start on the journey, and two lives, having a full life behind them, still looking forward to the next stage.

Five stars out of five.

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