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12 year-old Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is dumped by his mother Mae (Kyra Sedgwick) at the Texas ranch owned by his eccentric uncles Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine). According to local legend, Hub and Garth have a hidden stash of millions on their ramshackle property and the hostile reception they give to strangers leads Walter to believe in the story. As summer progresses, the fearsome-looking uncles gradually warm to the great-nephew they¹ve never met before and begin to share tall tales and their wisdom with the introverted youngster.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
What can you say about a film that expects us to like a couple of grumpy old codgers who sit on the porch and take pot-shots at anyone who dares set foot on their property? Desperate to be loved, this sentimental tale gives nostalgia a bad name as shy young Walter (Haley Joel Osment) has to put up with Michael Caine's poor approximation of a Southern accent and Robert Duvall's ham fisted attempt to slip on the overalls and play an older, wiser version of the Boo Radley character he played 40 years ago in To Kill A Mockingbird.

There will be some audiences who'll sit happily glazed in front of the soft hues and whimsical tone of this coming of age tale but anyone looking for characters and situations even remotely connected to the real world will be sorely disappointed. It's not the tall tales of Hub and Garth's amazing alleged adventures that are the problem it's the endless procession of heart-warming scenes and cracker-barrel philosophy in the present that induces the cringing.

As recalled by Walter as a grown man, Secondhand Lions is strictly second rate folksy and tries to give the impression that this young lad's life has been enriched by a golden summer with his crusty old uncles who may or may not have been part of Al Capone's gang and may even have a fortune hidden around the ranch somewhere. If these two geezers weren't supposedly hiding a stash of cash it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to pay them a visit.

Did anyone, anywhere really have relatives like these old coots? The sickly sweet screenplay and direction of Tim McCanlies isn¹t even redeemed by the promising casting of Caine, Duvall and Osment. Caine and Duvall are as hammy as a porker on farmer Hoggett¹s property and Osment has that "child star at the crossroads" look about him. His attempts to be cute, sensitive and awe inspired by this magical summer are scuttled by decidedly adolescent looks in a role crying out for a younger performer. If the parts he's offered don¹t improve, Osment may want to take a leaf out of Jodie Foster¹s book and knuckle down at school before venturing back into the movies.

Published September 23, 2004

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CAST: Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick, Nicky Katt, Josh Lucas

DIRECTOR: Tim McCanlies

SCRIPT: Tim McCanlies

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer, feature commentary with director Tim McCanlies, deleted and alternate scenes, Secondhand Lions: One screenplays wild ride in Hollywood, on the set with Secondhand Lions, Hayley Joel Osment: an actor comes of age, visual effects comparisons, TV spots, Greek subtitles and English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 23, 2004

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