Secondhand Lions [2003]

If you can get past its thick layer of syrup and molasses, Secondhand Lions reveals itself as a thoroughly decent family film that anyone can enjoy. It gets a little sappy sometimes, but there's something to be said for a movie in which Michael Caine and Robert Duvall play eccentric old brothers who take the easy approach to fishing: instead of a peaceful rod and reel, they use 12-gauge shotguns. When 14-year-old Walter (Haley Joel Osment, teetering on puberty) spends an eventful summer with his great-uncles on their vast Texas farmland (he's been dumped there by his delinquent mom, played by Kyra Sedgwick), he soon discovers they've lived lives full of adventure, excitement, passion, and mystery. Either that or they're old-time bank robbers with a long criminal record, and writer-director Tim McCanlies (who invested similar warmth into The Iron Giant) does a nice job of concealing the truth until the very end. Full of enriching lessons and homespun humor, Secondhand Lions has more substance than most family films. If you enjoyed Holes, you'll probably enjoy this movie, too. --Jeff Shannon

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