A young boy with mother problems goes to live with his two crazy old uncles, and ends up with an elderly secondhand lion. Sound too weird for you? Hold on. Turns out the uncles aren’t crazy after all (pretty much), and the lion contentedly roams the cornfield she thinks is her natural habitat. Oh, and she becomes a hero, when she gives her life saving her cub…in the form of the young boy. The mother problems only get worse, though. Turns out the lion is a better mother to the boy than his human mother is.

It’s still weird, but in a wonderful way.

Secondhand Lions could be pictured beside the definition of quirky in the dictionary. Uncles Hub and Garth McCann are as eccentric as it gets. They disappeared for forty years, then live as cranky, frankly scary hermits in a strange old house. Rumored to harbor a huge fortune they never spend, they make great sport of scaring away hopeful
salesmen, until Walter asks them why they don’t at least find out what’s for sale. It might be something they didn’t know they wanted. That’s how they discover the joys of skeet shooting.

Walter is a greatnephew dumped on them by his aforementioned problematic mother. Selfish, flighty, and greedy Mae leaves him there with instructions to find that money. He eventually does, but what he finds first is the supersized hearts of his uncles. A much greater treasure.

This movie has mystery, grand adventure, love and laughter. It is only as it nears its end that it becomes quite apparent that Uncle Garth’s outlandish stories of his life on the wild side with Hub and Jasmine, the woman in a picture that Walter names his secondhand lion after, are all true. Unbelievably, preposterously true.

It’s possible that this movie’s charm and appeal lies largely in the hands of the actors portraying Garth and Hub. Michael Caine and Robert Duval are perfection, as two extreme curmudgeons living life to the fullest, their way. That they take in a boy in need in no way diminishes their larger than life zest for life. What it does is make them loveable. Everybody could do with an Uncle Garth and Uncle Hub, to make life interesting…and lived with zest.

I’d seen Secondhand Lions years ago on TV and loved its chopped up for commercials everything. I finally got it on DVD and love the whole glorious, hilarious, serious, poignant, thought provoking whole of it even more. It’s one of those movies that sticks with you and makes you want to watch it again, as soon as the credits roll.

Secondhand Lions Official Trailer