The film Secondhand Lions is set in rural 1950’s Texas and centers on the lives of two eccentric brothers and their shy untrusting nephew, Walter.
The story starts out with Walter being unexpectedly dropped off at his estranged uncle’s house and tasked by his rather manipulative mother to find the brother’s rumored hidden fortune. At first, the two gruff uncles try to maintain a careless and nonchalant attitude, but Walter’s kind and inquisitive spirit ultimately gets the best of them. Throughout the summer, Walter convinces the uncles to enjoy some of their money. The extensive use of their money, results in multiple humorous fiascoes like a gardening mishap, cliche fight scene, and the bizarre purchase of a lion who soon becomes attached to Walter.
Periodically throughout the film, the uncles recount their adventurous tales of being shanghaied, rescuing a princess, and outsmarting a sheik. When local gossips cast doubt on the brothers’ outlandish stories, Walter realizes that after enduring a lifetime of his mother’s deceitfulness his heroic uncles may be no different. But, as Walter wrestles with the truthfulness of the brothers’ outlandish tales, he learns that some things in life are worth believing in.
When called upon to stand up for himself, Walter follows his uncles’ advice: courage and honor and virtue mean everything, but money and power mean nothing. In the end, Walter and the audience realize that the most valuable treasure the uncles could leave wasn’t their piles of money, but instead their exotic stories, humorous personalities, and loving natures.
At first, Secondhand Lions may seem like a kid’s film. However, through a summer adventure, flashbacks, and the love between man and beast, the audience learns that love and sacrifice can come in the most unlikely of ways. Hopefully, by the end of the movie watchers will have come to appreciate the advice given by the uncles: that sometimes we just have to believe. And as Christians, that’s exactly what the gospel asks of us.
Disclaimer: Although some mild violence ensues, the swordplay and fights are bloodless and handled with humor. Additionally, there is mild but common swearing by the uncles.