It was sad for me to see adults pushing their kids in the long-winded queues for Spiderman2 and Pokemon at the local theatre, while this touching entertainer was tossed aside (relatively) to the sidelines.
There is no doubt that Secondhand Lions is a semi-manipulative film, it has its fair share of smarmy feel-good contrivances that betray its zeal to tug at our heart strings. But the quirky mirth of all its characters, the idiosynchratic plotline, and a healthy dose of moving, meaningful moments makes this a very wholesome experience.
Duvall and Caine, as two reclusive millionaire uncles drunk on guns and eccentricity, pitch in very well. Caine warms up to his part in the film first, but the screen is really owned by a very fit Duvall, who soon becomes the pivotal character in the film as the uncle that the kid (Hailey Osment) turns to for advice. Osment does remarkably well to hold his own against these two big tykes. A barnful of cute animals and a truckful of drooling relatives round up the doozy cast.
Some fantastic (literally) flashbacks form an interesting trope for the movie's core message: that in our lives having conviction in things we may doubt to be untrue is ultimately a critical virtue. This leads to a somewhat corny twist at the end but it's an interesting one to make the point. There's plenty of action and some amusing gags that even evoked loud guffaws in the theatre.
All in all, whether you have kids or not, but especially if you do, this deserves a recommendation of the highest order.