To my dying day, I will swear that this film was undone by a weak marketing campaign and a bad (though appropriate) title. It’s a shame such an excellent film practically vanished at the box office. I remain amazed at how ultra loud, obnoxious films like Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End continually find vast oceans of unassuming film goers yet a true classic (yeah, I said it) like Secondhand Lions goes completely over looked and unrewarded.
The film follows the adventures of a young kid, played by Haley Joel Osment, who is unceremoniously dumped by his flakey mother (Kyra Sedgewick) at a farm belonging to his two distant uncles. The uncles, played by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine, are both old hell raisers who have seen better days and want to be left alone. They have no experience raising children, let alone socializing with people, yet they are constantly swarmed by both traveling salesmen and distant relatives who all want a glimpses of their treasure.
Apparently, the uncles have untold millions in riches laying about somewhere on the farm and their scheming relatives want to make sure that they are the ones who inherit the wealth, and not some know-nothing kid who was just dropped off on the farm.
What makes things fun is how the two uncles gradually take a shine to the boy. They soon realize that he’s just as much a stranger to common folk as they are and that he’s their one relative who wants absolutely nothing to do with their money. Caine eventually tells Osment stories about where they came from and what adventures they had when they were younger, and these stories are rife with imagination and adventure.
Duvall’s character is played by Angel-alum Christian Kane during these sequences and it’s amazing how charismatic he is while battling evil sheiks and thugs in the Middle East during the 1920’s. He comes off as a though the writer combined Indiana Jones with Conan the Barbarian. The result is a series of adventures that are bigger than life, and Osment knows it when he hears them. But he decides to run with it to get to the end of the tale, which proves to be a harder ending than he expected. In the meantime, he learns how to stand up for himself and be a man.
This is an absolutely wonderful film about how family is what you make of it, and how the choices people make tend to echo through several generations. If you haven’t had the chance to see this yet then it is highly recommended.