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Secondhand Lions’ touches the heart

Sarah Vabulas | Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Americans love the classic coming of age story – but what they love more is the coming of age story done differently. Tim McCanlies, writer and director of “Secondhand Lions” accomplishes the need for a new way to approach the classic storyline.

Starring Michael Caine as Garth, Robert Duvall as Hub and Haley Joel Osment as Walter, “Secondhand Lions” warms the heart and makes one reminiscent of childhood memories.

Osment, a shy, young boy is forced to spend the summer with his wealthy, eccentric uncles in Texas, while his mother supposedly moves to Fort Wayne to take classes to become a court clerk.

The opening scene provides a good look into the adventures of what is to come throughout the film, as it flashes back and forth from the present to the past adventures of the uncles in Africa.

Following his mother’s departure, Walter must fend for himself as his uncles get used to the idea of his living with them for a few weeks. Within a few days, Walter manages to evoke the kind and compassionate side from Garth, getting him to tell stories of the brother’s youth.

Garth and Hub left for Europe the day that World War I broke and ended up in the French Legion after being shanghaied, where they fought in World Wars I and II.

They explored many regions of Africa and Hub even fell in love with a princess. He fought for her from a powerful Shiek, who put a price on his head. They fell in love and ended up marrying. For the rest of their story, go see the movie.

Meanwhile, as Walter hears these stories, life is moving on their quaint farm in Texas. The uncles are warming up to Walter and they are beginning to live life once again. They really adopt Walter into their home and start doing chores and activities around the house. Walter shows them that they do not have to run every traveling salesman away with their shotguns, so they begin to be sociable and spend the cash that they have stashed away somewhere on the property. They buy these useless, yet fun, items that spice up their life.

A truck pulls up one afternoon, delivering a surprise. A “secondhand lion” is unloaded off the truck. Garth and Hub had hoped to release the lion and hunt it down to put its head on their fireplace. The lion, however, stays put in the crate, so they give the lion to Walter as a pet.

Walter has never been so excited to live life. His mom dragged him around everywhere, never having a permanent place of residence, so Walter was enjoying his time in one place, as well as having male figures in his life.

He explores life in a different way with his off the wall uncles. This film provides many laughs, but also has the place for some tears towards the end. It is a heartwarming comedic adventure, which is one not to miss.

Contact Sarah Vabulas at vabu4547@saintmarys.edu