Thursday, August 4, 2011
Second Hand Lions: Review
I've seen this movie a couple of times, and I just saw it recently again before the Manassas trip, so of course, I have to do a review on it. :)
This is one of my favorite movies, not for for worldview reasons, but I will explain why shortly.
This is the story of a young boy named Walter, who is dumped off at his two great-uncles house in Texas for the summer while his single mom goes off to a court-reporting school in Dallas. These two uncle are legendary in the family for disappearing for 40 years and then coming back supposedly filthy rich. No one knows where they got their money, or where it is, or whether or not they are even rich at all. Right from the beginning, you get the feel that Walter really doesn't trust his mom very much at all, for very good reasons that you find out later. He is dropped off at his uncles house, and finds out from the start that this summer will be nothing like he expected. From the signs that lead to the house down the mile long driveway reading that firearms are in use, danger, turn back now, to the multitude of dogs and one lone hog that greets them upon arrival, topped off by finding both of the uncles in chest waders in the back pond with shotguns hunting catfish, Walter is getting more than even he bargained for.
(Starting to see why this is one of my favorites? ) :)
It goes downhill from there. The two uncles have no television, no phone, and spend the day amusing themselves with sitting on their front porch and taking pot-shots at salesmen that come to sell things to them. (The fame of their money goes far beyond just the family.) Walter's new life has no end of adventures, from watching his uncle Hub beat up 4 teenagers who try to dice him up with their switchblades, to adopting an old lion his uncles bought so they could have their own personal safari in their front yard. (These are some REAL rednecks.)
All through the summer, Walter learns about his uncles past. The two of them, on a tour of Europe before WWI, were captured by French soldiers and shanghaied into the French legion. After the war, Hub (the one to the left) ran slave-trade busts, and saved a handmaid to a princess. Through a long list of adventures, Hub marries the Princess and they would have lived happily ever after, if it wasn't for the fact that a nearby sheikh was aiming for her, and is constantly hunting down Hub to kill him and get his girl. He has many adventures, and eventually, with his brother Garth's help, turns himself in so his brother can collect the huge ransom on his head, and then Garth helps Hub escape, both filthy rich and free. Hub's wife dies in childbirth, and since the service was the only thing he knew how to do, Hub rejoined it, eventually returning home.
The two Uncles, who are rather rough and prickly, finally become attached to Walter during his stay for the summer, and Walter becomes attached to them. Walter eventually ends up living with his uncles, after his mom comes back from Vegas (not Dallas) and Walter asks if his mom could do something good for him for a change. The Uncles eventually kill themselves accidentally by flying the plane they built upside-down into a barn. Upon their death, a rich young sheikh comes out to the old house "to visit the place where my uncle's greatest adversaries lived"
The End :)
The main theme to this story is twofold. First, Walter is burned, and bad by his mom. His mom has lied to him so many times, he doesn't trust anybody or anything anymore, heightened by the fact that she goes off to Vegas instead of Dallas as she had said. The key scene where he finally learns to trust is by the pond at night talking to his uncle Hub, who sleepwalks, dreaming of his youth. Walter asks if all the stories are true that he has been told by Garth. Hub makes a key statement.
"It doesn't matter whether or not its true, but whether you believe its true. Sometimes the things in life that aren't true are the things worth believing in, because of what they are and what they stand for."
(Or a near paraphrase of that. :))
Walter eventually learns to trust and believe what he believes, even when all he believes is challenged in the end. A very good point to stick to what we believe by faith, not by sight. Hubs statement is not true, because the only things worth believing in are true. So he missed the mark on that one.
The other theme is that Hub is searching for meaning in life in his old age. He says when he was young, things made sense, and things had a purpose. Now that he's old, he is constantly questioning what is his purpose, and it is eating at him that soon he will be useless. He makes up for it by keeping himself amused with active hobbies, making himself feel useful. He rates purpose with usefulness, and he feels that as he gets old, he therefore gets useless, and it eats at him. This theme also climaxes at the pond scene, where Walter tells Hub that his value isn't in what he can do, but that he is loved, and will be missed if he dies and goes away. This seems to console him, but it doesn't stop him from his wacky pursuits. :)
There is a very neat theme throughout this movie that I liked, that I don't see in many. Hub is always willing to teach the younger generation. He has a "what every young man must know about being a man" speech, and he takes the time to teach 4 teenagers after they attempt to slice them up with their switchblades. He also gives a part of it to Walter at the pond scene at night. The good is that he is willing to teach. Unfortunately, his message comes under....
"Man is basically good, Courage, dignity, and honor everything, and true love never dies"
That's just a segment, but it conveys the main thrust of what he said. He thinks man's nature is basically good, and the "love" part comes from his past with his wife, and he still loves her dearly. Depending on how you define love, that statement might be true, but the rest of his statement isn't.
The only other bad thing in this movie is minimal cussing, and kissing scenes before Hub and the Princess are married.
This movie is one of the funniest I know of, all with my flavor of humor. From shooting catfish with shotguns to playing clay pigeons over the pond to buying a lion for their own personal safari.... the honest to goodness clean humor goes on and on, and I love it all.
Overall rating: 3 stars. Only recommended if one can pick out the worldview and ignore the cussing.