Monday, January 22, 2007

Secondhand Lions

2003, US, directed by Tim McCanlies

Secondhand Lions makes no pretense to be anything other than a charming shaggy dog story, and as such it's very enjoyable, even if the final moments are of a sweeter tone than most of what has come before. An eccentric coming-of-age tale that puts an adolescent boy in the company of his two unsocialised uncles, it's a great vehicle for the talents of both Michael Caine and Robert Duvall, who are winningly curmudgeonly, and occasionally ornery, throughout. It's also a film with a well-developed sense of Hollywood of old: the tales (tall or perhaps true) that punctuate the film are brought to life in a manner that recalls the swordplay fun of stars like Errol Flynn, with the film cheerfully foregoing realism in recounting the Boy's Own adventures of the two uncles in their youth.

Haley Joel Osment is a little awkward, not yet an adult actor, but his two co-stars and a busy plot provide plenty of distraction from those growing pains, while the way that director McCanlies keeps a veil over the truthfulness of the uncles (before giving in at the very end) lends the film a little edge that keeps things interesting from the perspective of the adult viewer.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States