Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie Review

'Secondhand Lions' is first-rate

Published September 22, 2003

Haley Joel Osment and dog
[New Line Productions]
Haley Joel Osment plays a shy teenager left with two great-uncles in rural Texas in the early 1960s.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Secondhand Lions

Rating: PG

Summary: Set in the early 1960s, this movie is about Walter (Haley Joel Osment), a reticent young teenager whose single mother, Mae (Kyra Sedgwick), is rash and selfish. After telling Walter she's going to court-reporting school in Fort Worth (she's really going to Vegas to find a husband), she leaves him with his two peculiar, cranky great-uncles, whom he had never met, on their Texas ranch. Garth (Michael Caine) and Hub (Robert Duvall) are said to be millionaires (though they have a back-to-the-basics country lifestyle), and Mae nonchalantly suggests to Walter that he find out where their fortune is hidden. As Walter grows closer to his eccentric relatives, he comes to appreciate and understand the strange things they say and do. When the uncles purchase a "used" lion so they will have something to hunt, it eventually becomes a symbol of the things the three of them value most. Their blossoming relationship proves to be more precious than any of them thought possible.

My View: This film goes off the beaten path but in a very good way. It is nostalgic and simple, with a fairy tale quality to it. As the adventure-laden pasts of the uncles are unveiled, the acting prowess of Caine and Duvall shines. You (along with Walter) are never sure if Garth's tales are real or fantasy. Garth is a sentimental old soul whose protective, fatherlike mentality toward Walter is endearing. That is a great complement to Hub's mysterious, yet sarcastic and amusing self-confidence. Osment, whose voice is an octave or two lower than I remembered, is 15 and has pretty much lost that "cute little kid" quality, and he gives an admirable performance. This movie has a genuine feel-good air to it, a different perspective, and strong views about trust and good overcoming evil, all of which adds up to a high ranking in my book.

Recommendations: This is a great family film, but kids younger than 10 will probably become restless. I recommend you put it at the top of your movie-seeing agenda.

Grade: A

- Billy Norris, 15, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified September 19, 2003, 13:30:42]

Here's the rest of today's Xpress

  • Getting to know the X-Team
  • As lovable as his subject

  • IT!
  • Only strong people can say they're sorry

  • Movie Review
  • 'Secondhand Lions' is first-rate
  • Give in to these Temptations
  • Back to Top

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