Secondhand Lions

on September 19, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
So what happens to Indiana Jones when he hits retirement age? When he's no longer young and spry enough to lead safaris in North Africa, free those taken into slavery, skirt the bounty of a jealous wealthy sheik? He (and his brother) retreat to rural Texas and spend their mysterious fortune on more appropriate pastimes, like shooting clay pigeons and gardening, that's what.

For a couple of Oscar winners, Michael Caine and Robert Duvall are delightfully unpretentious as Garth and Hub, two aging adventurers who find themselves charged with the care of their "weenie" adolescent nephew (Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment, his body elongating, his voice cracking). Assigned by his flaky mother to discover the whereabouts of their stash of cash, Walter is dismayed to find that he's stuck out in the country with no telephone or television. Instead, he is entertained by Garth's tales of their youthful escapades, reenacted in wink-wink swashbuckling flashbacks.

But, while it's ostensibly Walter who needs his uncles' help in becoming a man, it is he who helps them accept that their youth is behind them. Hub particularly is having a hard time of it and, with the purchase of an airplane, both Garth and Walter suspect he might do something crazy. Ultimately it's Walter who convinces him to stick around long enough to give him his infamous what-every-boy-needs-to-know-about-being-a- man speech, delivered to a posse of teenagers after he beats them up single-handedly in a bar.

It's moments like these--when Garth and Hub order a retired circus lion to hunt ("At our age, this is as sporting as it gets"); when they don matching gardener outfits because "Gardening is what retired people do.... This is what gardeners wear"; and when they instruct Walter, "We don't know nothin' about kids, so if you need anything, get it yourself. Or, better yet, do without"--that give the film its charm. It's a real pleasure to watch these two old lions circle each other onscreen. Starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment. Directed and written by Tim McCanlies. Produced by David Kirschner, Scott Ross and Corey Sienega. A New Line release. Drama. Rated PG for thematic material, language and action violence. Running time: 117 min

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