Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours
Making a family-friendly film is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in cinema. Not only does it have to appeal to children, but it also has to avoid plenty of material that might not be appropriate for younger audiences. If families can get a powerful life lesson out of it as well, all the better. While modern fare tends to resort to the crass and focuses on bathroom humor for laughs, there are those rare few films that manage to tell a tight story. With legitimate laughs and a heartfelt conclusion, Secondhand Lions (2003) is just such a movie.
The two strengths that make this one of my favorite family-friendly films are its characters and its plot. All three of the main characters show some amount of significant character growth by the time the end credits roll. Besides, with acting talents like Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joel Osment, you really can’t miss here. In terms of plot, the pacing holds at a steady clip that drives the flashbacks and revelation of two lives lived to the fullest extent possible. On top of everything, this movie is relatable to boys and men of all ages.
While there are moments that will make you laugh and others that are heartfelt and earned, the core of this movie deals with manhood. Even back in the timeframe of this movie, there was a distinct separation between the “modern” man and the values of the greatest generation. The comparison between the guys who think physical strength makes them men and the actual men who know that strength comes from character is a timeless lesson that is still relevant and will remain relevant for decades to come. Perhaps the rarity of these character-driven men has put society into the state it’s in now.
A true family-friendly film about the importance of authentic manhood, I give Secondhand Lions 5.0 stars out of 5.