For 14-year old Walter, his great uncles' farm in rural Texas is the last place on earth he wants to spend the summer. Dumped off by his mother, Mae, in the middle of nowhere with two crazy old men and the promise that she'll come back for him, Walter doesn't know what to believe in. Eccentric and gruff, Hub and Garth McCaan are rumored to have been bank robbers, mafia hit men and/or war criminals in their younger days. The truth is elusive, although they do seem to have an endless supply of cash. But Walter begins to see a new side to his great uncles when he stumbles on an old photograph of a beautiful woman hidden away in a trunk and asks Garth who she is.
In this molasses-drenched coming-of-age movie, Haley Joel Osment (with a changed voice) is Walter, a 14-year-old boy left by his mother in the care of two grumpy old uncles (Michael Caine and Robert Duvall), the eccentric, reputedly wealthy proprietors of a farm in central Texas. The movie is pure hokum, but at least it spins out a yarn. The core of the film, set in the early 60's, consists of pulpy visualizations of the brothers' swashbuckling adventures overseas when they were young. And oh yes, Walter adopts a very tame, very old former circus lion that becomes as loyal as a guard dog. — Stephen Holden
2003-09-19 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Secondhand Lions