Grant Mitchell

My mom’s birthday was this past week. Being a college student with unpaid jobs, my funds are limited so I figured why not gift my mom something from the heart. A review of one her favorite movies and a hug. I promise I’m not always this cheap. 

The 2003 film “Secondhand Lions,” is not an Oscar winner, it isn’t preserved in the Library of Congress, nor is it even one of the best movies of 2003. 

“Secondhand Lions,” is, however, a film that charmingly and naturally tells a series of tall tales through excellent performances from Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. 

The movie takes place during the summer when the flakey mother of our protagonist, Walter, leaves him behind by for an extended period of time with his two eccentric and reclusive great-uncles on their farm. 

The young Walter is searching for a caring home as he has never really had one.

For the first while on the farm, Walter feels just as out of place as he did with his mother. 

One of his great-uncles, Hub, played by Robert Duvall, is a blunt and rough man that doesn’t seem to have much patience for children. While Walter’s other great-uncle Garth, played by Michael Caine, is more of a gentle person. 

As time passes, Walter imbues himself and his youth into his great-uncles and in exchange they share some of their larger-than-life stories from their exciting lives. 

The effect, in essence, feels a lot like “Forrest Gump,” but instead of the bittersweet and at times crude nature of the Tom Hanks classic, “Secondhand Lions,” makes itself more of a friendly and kind viewing experience. 

While “Secondhand Lions,” does have moments where you feel empathy and some pity for the makeshift family of two old men and a teenage boy, there is never a moment where you don’t feel an intense hope and altruism emanating from the film. 

With so many films trying to have an edge or some type of melodrama carrying on for the entirety of the plot, “Secondhand Lions,” presents itself without a hidden agenda of hard to swallow truths. 

However, what the tall tales of this film do provide is a series of lessons on morality.

Whether it is a swashbuckling adventure Hub and Garth had in their youth that shows them at odds with a powerful sheik, an old and lowly lion that the brothers care for or a teenage boy that Hub and Garth take in and love, “Secondhand Lions” constantly shows and reminds us what it is to be a good and compassionate person to the people you love. 

In essence, it seeks to remind us of what a good parent should be; protective, loving and moral.

I think for myself the reason I love this movie so much is because when I see the great-uncles’ love for Walter, I think of my mom. 

I think of how she has always been there with kindness when I needed it and with tough love and stern lessons when I needed those too. 

“Secondhand Lions,” isn’t perfect, but it reminds you of the value of good parents and what makes them so great. 

I love you mom, and happy birthday. 

Grant Mitchell is a senior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

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