Heartwarming stories

A child’s parents leave him at a strange place to spend a certain amount of time with some distant, older relatives, whom he has never met. Before the said period of time is through, the relatives have warmed up to the child. In turn, the child has glimpsed into their past and has learned a lesson or two about what’s important in life.


There are only so many stories you can tell. This is one of them. You’ve probably come across it in one form or another. Fortunately, Secondhand Lions tells it well.


The first step in the right direction was casting Michael Caine and Robert Duvall as the two great-uncles stuck with a kid for the summer. They seem to enjoy their roles as two older men who once lived wild lives but now just want to be left alone. The kid, Walter, is played by Haley Joel Osment of Sixth Sense fame. He’s grown some since we last saw him, and as far as the frightened, troubled look goes, he’s got it down to a science, though he could let up on the furrowed brows just a touch. That said, he has a way of making you care about the character he’s playing.


In Secondhand Lions, he is a hurting kid whose irresponsible mother, played by Kyra Sedgwick, leaves him with his uncles for the summer. They are two odd fellows who once disappeared for 40 years, to where no one knows. Rumour has it they have millions stashed away on their property. This seems unlikely, considering they live in a dilapidated farmhouse, but it doesn’t stop salesmen and relatives from showing up.


As it turns out, uncles Hub and Garth had a wild, adventurous youth, recounted by Garth to Walter. The flashbacks have a fairytale-like quality with exotic lands, sword fights, even a princess. These scenes are consciously done over-the-top, which is fitting since you would expect a grand-uncle to embellish a bit when telling stories about his youth.


And this is what the film toys with. Did Hub and Garth really go to Africa? Where did all that money really come from? Will Walter take uncle Hub’s advice that the things you are unsure of are the things that you need to believe in most of all to heart?


If you’re one of those who steer away from tearjerkers, Secondhand Lions is not bad at all. Heartfelt, yes; sappy, no. For those of you who like to cry, this film is sufficiently sentimental and you will leave the theatre feeling good.

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