Secondhand Lions

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Secondhand Lions Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Charming family movie for tweens and up.
  • PG
  • 2003
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Good always triumphs over evil. True love never dies. People can grow older without losing their inner spark.


Positive Role Models & Representations

Through their actions, their stories, and their advice, Uncles Hub and Garth prove themselves to be the unlikely yet perfect caretakers for young Walter. They stand up for what they believe in, don't take any guff from anyone, and inspire Walter with profound life lessons that carry him through well into adulthood.


Early in the film, the two great uncles sit on their porch and fire rifles at a succession of salesmen and con artists who drive up hoping to relieve them of their fortune. During flashback scenes, a World War I battle is shown -- with one character smashing another character's face with the butt of a rifle. Characters fight with swords in later flashbacks set in North Africa. One of the great uncles fights five switchblade-wielding teenagers. A man slaps a boy in the face. A lion is shown attacking a man who is later in a full body cast as a result of the attack.


Reference to a shiek's harem.


"Damn," "crap," "pisses off."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A woman smokes in her car. Two great uncles share chewing tobacco; they offer some to their nephew, who tries it and gags. During a knife fight, a character dumps a bottle of beer on the head of the person he's fighting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Secondhand Lions is a is a heartwarming coming-of-age story about a boy whose unreliable mother leaves him on a ranch with his two great uncles, former globetrotting adventurers who still have wild streaks. Set in rural Texas in the 1960s, these great uncles chew tobacco (and offer some to the boy) and shoot rifles whenever salesmen try and ply their wares. There's also a knife fight between the great uncles and a group of greaser teenagers, and some war scenes and chase scenes that come up in the form of flashbacks. Beyond this, though, Secondhand Lions is a fun and touching story that raises questions about what it means to grow up and to grow old.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMotherbug May 17, 2020

The Lord's name in vain!!!

Very disappointed that the Lords name is taken in vain and the swearing in this movie...wonderful story...swearing is unecessary. I dont watch movies that taje... Continue reading
Adult Written byApearlb November 13, 2018

A nice quiet film about what matters

You need to believe in good things.
Teen, 15 years old Written byMonkey012 December 4, 2019

Great awesome

I think it’s for 12 and up because it swears and has a lot of fighting.
Kid, 11 years old March 19, 2017

secondhand lions is awesome!

secondhand lions is an awesome action movie. the uncles cuss a lot so be warned but they are great role models and are the parent any kid would be grateful to k... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SECONDHAND LIONS, Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is dumped on the unwelcoming front porch of his two great-uncles, Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Michael Caine) by his flighty mother (Kyra Sedgewick) so she can go to school and learn how to be a court reporter. She tells him that they disappeared 40 years earlier and just mysteriously returned. The rumor is that they have money hidden away somewhere, and she tells Walter to see if he can find it. Hub and Garth are not used to taking care of anyone. They tell Walter that if he needs anything he should find it himself or, better yet, do without it. Walter is not used to being taken care of. His mother has had a series of worthless or abusive boyfriends. When he calls the school to try to talk to her, he runs through a whole list of aliases before finding out that she has lied to him again and never even enrolled.

Is it any good?

Duvall and Caine have such easy charm that they make this movie work. It does sag when anyone else is on-screen, though such as during the flashbacks of their adventures in Africa and Osment's struggles to find his character and manage his adolescent voice.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their own best advice for children about growing up and about the importance of having role models.

  • Families can also talk about Hub's view that sometimes it's important to believe in things whether they are true or not.

  • What do you think of the portrayal of rural folks? Do you think it's realistic or presents stereotypes?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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