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Secondhand Lions Review

Updated on June 19, 2020

Secondhand Lions (2003) review

Oh my goodness, what a flick! I can’t believe it took me so long to see this one. It amazes me that movies like this can slip right past me. It just goes to show how many great films are out there and it makes me more excited about my pursuit for them! This film had everything. It was original, the acting was superb, the storytelling was on point and the emotion of the film stayed consistent throughout. This film is in every way an instant classic.

Secondhand Lions (2003) is written and directed by Tim McCanlies and stars Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment. A young boy named Walter (Osment) gets left with his two great uncles Hub (Duvall) and Garth (Caine) for the summer. His greedy mother tells him that the two men are very wealthy and have a stash of money hidden on the property, and he should try and find it. The men are not nice to Walter at first, but over time they grow to care about each other and adapt to each other’s ways. It’s a story about growing up and knowing what is important in life, and sometimes it is okay to believe in something that may not be true.

I love movies with a lot of heart, even if it makes me teary eyed. I am never ashamed of crying during a film. To me that is the ultimate compliment to a filmmaker. Like someone who can’t hold a conversation during a meal because they are so focused on their food is a compliment to the chef. And yes, I wept a little during this movie. This isn’t the first Haley Joel Osment movie I cried during, either. The kid can act. Duvall and Caine are amazing actors as well, but I think Duvall impressed me a little more. I have never seen him play the rough and tumble type, and he did so extremely well.

Seeing characters evolve is one of the most satisfying things for me to see as a film fan, and every character in this film seems to grow along the way.

This is a heartfelt movie that anyone would enjoy. It is a movie for the young and the young at heart. It reminds us to live each day to its fullest, and I think that’s a message that anyone could use.

Cast trivia

  • Haley Joel Osment was contracted without knowing which studio would make the movie nor who the other main leads would be. This was against standard Hollywood practice and surprised Eugene Osment (Haley's father and manager) at first, but he agreed to "use" his son to get the remainder of the cast and studio.
  • Since Osment went through puberty during filming, this movie was shot in sequence. As the movie progresses, his voice can be heard getting deeper, especially at the end.
  • At one stage, this movie was going to be a vehicle for Paul Newman and Robert Redford, and it would have been their third pairing after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and The Sting (1973).
  • This was the second occasion where Duvall and Kyra Sedgwick played relatives in a movie. In this film, they were uncle and niece. In Something to Talk About (1995) they were father and daughter.
  • This was the theatrical debut of Mitchel Musso.
  • Eugene Osment, who played Hub's doctor in the movie, is Haley Joel Osment's father and manager in real life.

production trivia

  • Secondhand Lions was released on September 19, 2003 and was produced and distributed by New Line Cinema.
  • This film had a budget of 30 million dollars and the worldwide gross is 48.2 million.
  • The movie was filmed in Texas, USA.
  • The ending was re-shot due to negative test-screening feedback. The re-shoot cost 600,000. The original ending is available on the DVD.
  • Osment was attacked by the pig during filming. The lion had numerous trainers and handlers, but no one thought the pig might be a menace.
  • In the fight scene with Duvall against four teens, Travis Willingham was hit three times in the face. This was due to a miscommunication, Duvall thought Willingham was a stuntman.
  • Writer and director Tim McCanlies wrote the lion as a female because he thought it would be easier to keep under control than a male lion. It was not until production began that he found out female lions were actually much more ferocious than male lions.


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