Secondhand Lions

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage and virtue mean everything...that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love...true love never dies."
Hub (Robert Duvall)

In this film set in the 1960s, Walter, played by Haley Joel Osment, is dropped off with his great uncles by his ditzy mom, who says she needs some time to herself so she can go to court reporting school. The uncles Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine) don't like having a 'kid' around cramping their style, but eventually warm to him, and he to them. The uncles are a little...eccentric (they go fishing by shooting bass with their shotguns, and spend their days chasing off traveling salesmen...with shotguns), but they prove themselves to be surprisingly capable foster dads. Walter is awed by Hub's crazy ways, while Garth spins tales of their adventuring days of yore. Needs More Love.

Tropes used in Secondhand Lions include:
  • Arabian Nights Days: The mundane version.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The brothers McCann are able to assume control of any situation by being armed, assertive, and Badass.
  • Badass Grandpa: While not technically Walter's grandfather, Hub can take on four guys a quarter of his age, unarmed and still beat them. Also various enemies of the Foreign Legion, the Sheik's army & the Sheik himself.
  • Badass Boast: I'm Hub McCann. I've fought in two World Wars and countless smaller ones on three continents. I led thousands of men into battle with everything from horses and swords to artillery and tanks. I've seen the headwaters of the Nile, and tribes of natives no white man had ever seen before. I've won and lost a dozen fortunes, KILLED MANY MEN and loved only one woman with a passion a FLEA like you could never begin to understand. That's who I am. NOW, GO HOME, BOY!
  • Beef Bandage: After Hub beats up some thugs, he gives them some meat to do this with.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The two uncles die after the kid grows up and moves out on his own. But dammit if they don't go out in the coolest way possible.
  • Black Humor: The uncles' death. This also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny, once we see the airplane embedded in the barn...upside-down.
  • Book Ends: The beginning and the end of the movie are set in the present, the rest some decades previous.
  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his LIONESS.
  • Captain Ersatz: The comics Walter draws in the end are obviously inspired by Calvin and Hobbes, though it might be a little cloudy since they were drawn in Real Life by Berke Breathed.
  • Character Filibuster: Without the stigma. Uncle Hub's "What every boy needs to know about being a man" speech. Since such matters have a tendency to be seen as subjective, it's mostly just alluded to.
  • Cool Old Guy: Both uncles, but especially Hub.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Said in regards to Walter's plan to actually find out what a solicitor is selling before shooting at him.
    • Actually, that line is used in reference to the idea of keeping Walter around to annoy the OTHER relatives--who are clearly only there to get themselves written into Hub and Garth's will--into leaving. Walter's idea of seeing what the salesman has to offer is met with "All right, THEN we'll shoot 'im."
  • Cool Car: Subverted. Garth and Hub drive a rusty old truck.
  • Death Seeker: Subtle, but it becomes apparent that Uncle Hub is seeking death.
  • Delinquents: A handful get their backsides handed to them by the Retired Badass.
  • Diner Brawl: The incident with the aforementioned delinquents.
  • Dual-Wielding: The Sheik.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: A couple times. With shotguns, as it should be.
  • Eyepatch of Power: The Sheik.
  • Evil Uncle: Briefly implied, heavily subverted.
  • Fake Texan: Michael Caine
  • Friendly Enemy: We find out at the end of the movie that the Sheik and Hub become this.
  • Framing Device.
  • Great Way to Go: "Going out with your boots on."
  • Groin Attack: Defend yourself!
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Michael Caine, Robert Duval, Kyra Sedgwick, Haley Joel Osment, and even Adrian Pasdar makes a short appearance as a clay pigeon salesman.
    • Anime fans might recognize one of the thugs Robert Duval beats up as Travis Willingham.
      • This is especially funny knowing that Travis will be playing Cell on Dragonball Z Kai, and the previous Cell, Dameon Clarke, is also in this movie, as the animal truck driver.
    • Mustang got his ass kicked by Boo Radley!
    • And newspaper comic fans might recognize Walter's comic drawings as having been done by Berke Breathed, who was inspired to start Opus by doing so and realizing how much he missed cartooning.
    • And, of course, Christian Kane plays a young Hub.
    • Stan is Atton.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jasmine the Lion, in her Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Poor thing had too much excitement.
  • The Ishmael: Squared. The film is told from Walter's point of view as an adult looking back, and Garth narrates the flashbacks to their adventures in the same way.
  • Karma Houdini: The Sheik. A lampshade is hung on this by Walter.
  • Mama Bear: Not Walter's actual mother, but Jasmine the lion, in the above mentioned Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: The Sheik of course.
  • Mugging the Monster: Those teenagers really should learn to respect their elders.
  • Name's the Same: Jasmine the princess from Garth's tale, and Jasmine the lion.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Jasmine the lion.
  • Parental Abandonment: Walter's mother abandons him in pretty much every way possible. First with his uncles, then to a man she knows is likely to interrogate and beat him. He ultimately begs her to leave forever, and this time she does so for his own good.
  • Press-Ganged: Played for Laughs: The two uncles were drinking with some sailors, passed out, and woke up on a ship out to sea.
  • Quirky Household
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Played with. The uncles are "real men" because they've fought through lots of difficult situations for something that they love and believe in. The fact that they might have killed some people along the way is not the main point. The movie also shows the kind of issues with retirement that men typically portrayed in this fashion would have to deal with once they got older.
  • Sequential Artist: Walter.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Especially for chasing off traveling salesmen.
  • Storming the Castle: Hub and Garth do this to rescue Jasmine (the woman, not the lion).
  • There Are No Therapists: Well, there are, but in The Fifties, going to the head shrinker simply wasn't done. Depression is dealt with elsewise.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Just about everything said by Stan and Walter's mother is untrustworthy. And while it's played for laughs the first time, Hub and Garth's stories may not be completely true. Except at the end, Walter finds out that they probably are.
  • Vagabond Buddies: Garth and Hub in their younger days.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Not quite, but the man Walter's mother brings with her near the end of the film is definitely headed in that direction.
    • Though Walter doesn't go with her. Who would, after the guy nearly beat him to death?!
    • Then again I don't think he would ever go after him again since he had a Lion and 2 Gun toting uncles in his corner.
  • Will: There's some pressure on the brothers to sign a will that leaves certain of the antagonists the beneficiaries. It gets dismissed.
  • What Could Have Been: Tommy Lee Jones was originally cast as Hub with Robert Duvall playing Garth. Then he dropped out, and Duvall became Hub. Michael Caine was eventually cast in the Garth role, but Tropes Are Not Bad because Michael Caine is awesome.
  • You Will Be Spared: Hub and the Sheik have a battle to the death. Disarmed, the Sheik hides his head in fear, knowing that he has no right to beg for mercy. But Hub lets him live, because then he owes him.