“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a [person] needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil.”
Now, more than ever, this is the message we need to hear. This year has been filled with trials and difficulties for many, in many ways. As we desperately seek a source of encouragement, hope, and good cheer everywhere we go, might I recommend that you and your family revisit what I consider to be one of the best movies of the early 2000s.
Secondhand Lions is the story of Walter, a young boy who has faced a lifetime of neglect and abandonment from his mother. Having exhausted all other options, and with a veiled plot to uncover the secrets of a hidden fortune, Mae drops Walter off, uninvited, to spend the summer at the home of his great uncles, Garth and Hub while she claims to pursue an education in court reporting. Walter’s great uncles disappeared 40 years ago, and have only recently resurfaced. While initially fearful and uncertain about staying with his uncles, Walter is fascinated to learn about their past and adventures in Africa and to watch them as they shoot at and threaten traveling salesmen, avoid greedy relatives, buy a used lion through the mail, and teach him what it means to be a man, and to live a life filled with honor, courage, and virtue.
With an all-star cast, including Haley Joel Osment, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine, Secondhand Lions has no trouble holding a viewer’s attention. It is a timeless classic filled with humor, action, mystery, and a touch of love. Osment plays a convincing guarded, untrusting, introverted young man who has spent his life feeling like an inconvenience to those around him, and rarely permitted to do things he enjoys, or feel like he belongs.
Duvall plays a man who has done a great deal of living in his years with a tough exterior and a kind, loving heart for those who can find their way into it. Caine excels at portraying a strong mix of tough and tender, and really rounds out the cast.
The title, Secondhand Lions obviously refers to the used lion purchased by Garth and Hub, but it more subtly refers to Garth and Hub themselves. Men who have lived a life of wildness, ferocity, and adventure, but who need to adapt and find new meaning and purpose in providing a better life for a young man who really needs it.
As you trudge through the drudgery that day to day life can become, especially in times of trial like these, bring your family together to join Walter in learning what life is all about. And remember when you feel as though you may have nothing else to believe in, that good always triumphs over evil. (Wood is a Serve Daily contributor.)