Secondhand Lions (2003)

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Released 22-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Audio Commentary-Tim McCanlies (Director)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Secondhand Lions: One Screenplay's Wild Ride In Hollywood
Featurette-On The Set With Secondhand Lions
Featurette-Haley Joel Osment: An Actor Comes Of Age
Featurette-Visual Effects Comparisons
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spots
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 104:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tim McCanlies
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Caine
Robert Duvall
Haley Joel Osment
Kyra Sedgwick
Nicky Katt
Josh Lucas
Michael O'Neill
Deirdre O'Connell
Eric Balfour
Christian Kane
Kevin Haberer
Emmanuelle Vaugier
Adam Ozturk
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Patrick Doyle


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Do you ever read about a movie, see it described as a 'feel-good movie' or a 'great family movie' and immediately cringe? I know I do. However, this one has a major difference to most movies advertised that way - it actually is what it's advertised as! This is a fantastic coming-of-age film, involving both a 14 year old growing up to be a man but also his two old grand-uncles growing up and realising that they have something to live for past their physical prime. During the film they all help each other to change and see a new future.

    The film is set near Austin, Texas (where it was also filmed) in both the modern day and the early 1960s. The plot involves a young boy, Walter (Haley Joel Osment) who has been brought up by his single mother, Mae (Kyra Sedgwick) and has been regularly dumped by her, here and there, so that she can run off on another plan to get some money or find some man to marry her. The film opens with them on their way to her Uncles' house near a small town, to leave him there for the summer in the early 1960s. The Uncles had previously left home when they were 18 or so and had been gone for 40 years, only returning recently. There are many stories about the McCann brothers told around the local community and some of them may even be true. They are rumoured to have millions of dollars stashed away somewhere and Mae's plan is to leave Walter at their house so that he can find the money. The gruff and eccentric old brothers are Hub (Robert Duvall), the older and tougher one and Garth (Michael Caine) his younger and calmer brother. They describe Walter as a 'jumpy little fella' when they first meet him, but agree for him to stay with them. As Walter begins to get to know these old men he realises they have a lot of history and starts to unravel their secrets as Garth begins to tell him their story (shown as fantasy sequences from Walter's viewpoint). The brothers get Walter involved in all sorts of eccentric activities, which are very amusing, including fishing, travelling salesmen, farming, fighting and shooting although none of these are as simple as they sound (but I don't want to spoil them for you).

    The cast is uniformly excellent with Robert Duvall and Michael Caine being inspired choices for the old uncles and Haley Joel Osment doing a great job as the young boy. Michael Caine does a convincing Texas drawl and does not seem out of place at all as an old Texan returned from spending 40 years overseas. There is some really funny stuff in this film but as the director says in one of the extras, it's not a comedy. It is a film with messages to send about growing up and acting your age and always thinking there is something to live for.

    Another great thing this film has going for it is the laid-back but tough Texas style of its writer and director, Tim McCanlies (pronounced McCanless). This has resulted in a film which completely avoids over-sentimentality and mawkishness by not blatantly pulling at the audience's heart strings but actually offering true emotions. The extras indicate that he had to fight for 10 years to get this film made in this way, rather than some studio executive's idea of what would sell, and his persistence has resulted in an excellent film.

    The authentic setting in a small town in Texas really adds to the feel of the movie and the beautiful landscapes and big Texas skies make for a good looking film.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would unreservedly recommend it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good but suffers from a slightly over-compressed transfer which would probably affect those with projectors but not be particularly noticeable for people (like me) who have a big screen CRT. The film has been compressed to fit into one layer on the disc, presumably to fit the copious extras on the other layer. I should stress that for normal everyday viewing this issue will not affect your enjoyment of this film, unless you own a projector or possibly a large screen plasma.

    The feature is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio and the same ratio as this film is presented in in other regions. The box says that the aspect ratio is 2.35:1, but this is incorrect.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise, although the sharpness was affected by the abovementioned over-compression as some camera pans had some very minor shimmer. There was some very light grain throughout. The shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour was very good, vibrant and well saturated. I noticed no colour artefacts at all.

    There were some very minor artefacts consistent with the slight over-compression including very minor jagged edges, and one spot of aliasing at 96:46 on a shirt.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired for the feature and most extras and in English for the commentary. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    There is no layer change.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is excellent.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. The EX track is stunningly good, surprisingly so for a film of this type. The stereo track would probably be more suitable for those without a home theatre sound system.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Patrick Doyle and the other music used is very suitable for the location of the film including, as it does, Texan music.

    The surround speakers were regularly used for directional effects such as the sound of a bi-plane and many others.

     The subwoofer was also used throughout to add emphasis as appropriate.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu starts with a fun intro, showing the warning signs on the way into the Uncle's ranch, and includes music. The menu itself is also well done and includes music from the score and the ability to choose sound, subtitle and scene options.

Commentary - Director Tim McCanlies

    This is a very good commentary track. McCanlies is interesting, talks constantly, and is obviously very enthusiastic about his movie. He discusses story lines, editing choices, technical details, casting, acting styles of the cast, the genesis of the script and its relationship to his own life and some on-set anecdotes and explanation of how certain stunts and scenes were done. Occasionally, he lapses into describing what is going on onscreen but only rarely. One of the better commentaries I have heard.

Deleted / Alternate Scenes (41:14)

    This includes 10 deleted and optional scenes, all of which are interesting and worth seeing. This is very different to most deleted scenes. Another good feature is that they are presented 16x9 enhanced and with 5.1 sound! They are available with or without director's commentary and/or subtitles. The commentary indicates that most of these scenes were removed for pacing reasons and to keep the film to a reasonable length. The scenes included are:

Secondhand Lions : One Screenplay's Wild Ride in Hollywood (26:06)

    Now here's something different - rather than the usual studio-approved making of, this featurette follows the 10 year travels of this script through various studios and production companies including interviews with the various studio people (including some at Warner Bros who had a option on the script for 2 years) about what was proposed for this script such as turning it into Grumpy Old Men 3 with Matthau and Lemmon! This is one of the first featurettes I've seen which 'opens the kimono' and shows what goes on in the back rooms of Hollywood. Fascinating! 16x9 enhanced.

On the Set with Secondhand Lions (26:08)

    A good quality behind-the-scenes/making of featurette which covers locations, characters, the animal actors, stunts and how the shooting schedule was arranged. Includes interviews with all major cast members, the producers, the director and most of the crew including the Director of Photography, animal co-ordinator, costumes and production designers, swordmaster and stunt co-ordinator. 16x9 enhanced.

Haley Joel Osment - An Actor Comes of Age (12:43)

    A short featurette covering the career of Haley Joel Osment. He comes across as an intelligent, well spoken and mature young man. Well worth watching. 16x9 enhanced.

Visual Effects Comparisons (1:13 and 0:42)

    Comparisons of blue screen original photography and the digitally enhanced final film. Interesting for the technically minded.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

    A well done trailer which interestingly enough includes some of the deleted scenes. 16x9 enhanced and 5.1 sound!

TV Spots (3:30)

    A total of 7 quite different 30 second TV Spots made to appeal to different audiences.

Easter Egg 1 (1:13)

    I found two Easter Eggs on this disc. The first one shows the problems they had getting the pig and chicken to stand still for one of the shots in the film. You can access it by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) clicking up from the play all on the deleted scenes menu to highlight a flower.

Easter Egg 2 (4:01)

    I found two Easter Eggs on this disc. The second one is a set of outtakes from the film. You can access it by (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) clicking left on the TV Spot menu to highlight a flower.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

   I'd call this a draw because I dislike dual sided discs and DVD-ROM extras leave me pretty cold.

Summary

    This disc contains an excellent coming-of-age/acting-your-age comedy drama starring Michael Caine, Robert Duvall & Haley Joel Osment.

    The video quality is very good but slightly over-compressed.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a great selection of top quality extras and two Easter eggs.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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