Secondhand Lions

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Rating: PG

Starring:
Michael Caine as Garth
Robert Duvall as Hub
Haley Joel Osment as Walter
Kyra Sedgwick as Mae
Nicky Katt as Stan
Josh Lucas as Adult Walter
Michael O’Neill as Ralph
Deirdre O’Connell as Helen
Eric Balfour as Sheik’s Grandson
Christian Kane as Young Hub
Kevin Haberer as Young Garth
Emmanuelle Vaugier as Jasmine
Adam Ozturk as The Sheik
Jennifer Stone as Martha

Special Features:
Commentary by director Tim McCanlies

40 Minutes of Deleted / Alternate Scenes with Optional Filmmaker Commentary

“Secondhand Lions” One Screenplay’s Wild Ride in Hollywood (documentary)

On The Set with “Secondhand Lions” (documentary)

Haley Joel Osment: An Actor Comes of Age (documentary)

Visual Effects Comparisons

Theatrical Trailer & 7 TV Spots

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 110 Minutes

Synopsis:
In the early 1960′s, young Walter is dropped off at his great uncles’ house in Texas by his irresponsible mother Mae. She believes her late husband’s uncles, Hub and Garth, have secretly stashed away a fortune that they accumulated when they disappeared for 40 years. Nobody knows how or where they got the money, but all of the relatives and local salesmen are eager to get their hands on it. She dumps Walter off and leaves him to find out about the money on his own.

Feeling abandoned, Walter slowly starts to get to know his gruff and tough uncles. They are eccentric and not very personable, but Walter slowly begins to unravel the mystery of where they were for those 40 years. He gets Hub to tell him of their adventures in Europe and Africa, their battles with sheiks, and Garth’s love of an Arabian Princess. But are the stories true or are they more lies being told by members of Walter’s family?

Secondhand Lions is rated PG for thematic material, language and action violence.

The Movie:
I wanted to see Secondhand Lions in the theater but I unfortunately missed it. Now it appears on DVD and I was very glad I got the chance to see it. Secondhand Lions is a fun film that both children and adults can enjoy. It has humor, action, drama, and romance. It’s everything you could want in a movie.

The acting in the film is superb. Michael Caine and Robert Duvall are perfectly cast as the two Texan brothers with a mysterious past. They are able to pull off these characters that are both intimidating and lovable at the same time. Caine manages to speak with a decent Texas accent while Duvall gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from him. Haley Joel Osment rounds out the primary cast and is also wonderful. He makes a seamless transition from a troubled, young teenager to a confident, strong young man. You can even hear his voice change through the course of the film.

The humor in the film is hilarious. The reaction on Osment’s face as Hub and Garth shoot at salesmen is priceless. Their dealing with relatives circling like vultures waiting for them to die is also amusing. One of the highlights of the film is when Hub surprises a group of hoodlums with a good old fashioned brawl, followed up by a lion hunt. You’ll just have to see it to believe it.

The movie frequently flashes back as Garth tells the story of their 40 year disappearance. We see the young brothers experiencing adventures on par with Indiana Jones. You wouldn’t necessarily expect swordfights, horseback chases, gunfights, and explosions in a film like this, but they are here.

Overall, Secondhand Lions is a great film that deserves to become a family classic. It will appeal to people on so many levels as it generates laughs, tears, and a sense of awe.

The Extras:
While there aren’t that many DVD extras listed on this disc, they are all quite long and impressive. Here are the highlights:

Commentary by director Tim McCanlies – Since McCanlies wrote and directed the film, he has quite a lot to say about the movie. He discusses deleted scenes, what it was like working with the actors, trivia about the shoot, and more. It’s an interesting commentary worth checking out if you liked Secondhand Lions.

40 Minutes of Deleted / Alternate Scenes with Optional Filmmaker Commentary – If you play all of the deleted scenes together, they are about 41 minutes long. However, if you cut out footage that is in the film already, then it’s really about 20 minutes of new stuff. Some of it is unimpressive like a shot of Walter getting carsick. However, other scenes develop the plot more and answer lingering questions I had from the movie. One deleted scene reveals that Garth actually invited all the salesmen to their house in order to entertain Hub. Other scenes tell more about the story of the brothers robbing a bank dressed as Santa Claus. We see Walter discover old Santa outfits and we hear the other relatives tell more of the tale. Most significant of the extras is an alternate ending to the movie. In it we see the funeral for Hub and Garth and we see Walter’s wife and children. The hoodlums that Hub beat up also appear. The old men’s wild stories are confirmed when the evil sheik shows up to pay his respects to his dead nemeses. If you enjoyed the movie then you’ll definitely want to see the extra scenes.

“Secondhand Lions” One Screenplay’s Wild Ride in Hollywood – This 26 minute documentary tells how director and writer Tim McCanlies got his script turned into a movie after 10 years of dealing with the Hollywood bureaucracy. It goes from the writing of the script in Texas all the way to New Line picking up the film. It’s quite an interesting tale that has a number of twists and turns. It’s also interesting to hear how Lord of the Rings was a key part in getting the movie made. It’s educational stuff for any aspiring scriptwriter.

On The Set with “Secondhand Lions” – This is a closer look at the actual making of the movie. From the location outside of Austin, they interview Duvall, Osment, and Caine. They discuss the trained animals, the special effects, and more. I was particularly impressed with how they transformed Texas into exotic African locations. This video is also about a half hour long.

Haley Joel Osment: An Actor Comes of Age – Haley Joel Osment is featured in this 15 minute documentary. It discusses his acting career, his inspirations, and his future plans. He comes across as a very mature, professional actor and his fellow crew and director all rave about him. Osment’s career is going to be one to watch over the years and this featurette shows why.

Visual Effects Comparisons – This is a very brief before and after look at how two of the effects scenes in the movie were made. This includes Hub and Garth’s boat arrival in Europe and another scene with a group of computer generated soldiers.

The Bottom Line:
This is an excellent film well worth checking out, if not adding to your DVD collection.

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