is a day that has been mentioned a great deal of late, and it is really quite
easy to understand why. This day, unlike most other days, is quite significant
for one very important reason... today we get to celebrate the third anniversary
since the release of that wonderful Haley Film, "Secondhand Lions".
It was three whole years ago today, 19-September-2003, since we were last able
to appreciate, admire, and wonder at a new character brought so realistically
to life by Haley. Three whole years... and although not quite as long as the fourty
whole years talked about in the film, I must admit that at times it certainly
has felt just the same since we last saw Haley on the silver screen. More than
anything else on this day, I think that is what will stand out the most for me,
and why this day is so significant.
we have reluctantly come to understand that it is not every day, or even every
year, in which we get to experience some new Haley project or venture, and a new
Haley Film stands out above all others. Although we are on cusp of the release
of "Home of the Giants", the long awaited next film currently being
polished and completed to the expected level of perfection, the third anniversary
of "Secondhand Lions" remains as Haley's most recent film. But what
a film it was, and just like all previous Haley Films, this one was as fulfilling
and satisfying as any other.
makes a Haley Film so special and so unique, is the character that Haley plays
and brings to life on screen. Over the course of his brief but stellar career,
his characters have been some of the most endearing and memorable, and he has
given some of the most breathtaking performances to have ever been captured on
film. His character in "Secondhand Lions" represented the next significant
step in the evolution of his career. As time marches ever forward, so too must
Haley's career, and in this particular film he continued his graceful transition
into the world of adult actors. Leaving my own appreciative words aside for a
change, I think Erick Harper captured some of the essence of that transition in
his review of the "Secondhand Lions" DVD for dvdverdict.com...
Joel Osment has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past few years, from
the almost eerily precocious child star of The Sixth Sense to a quite affable
and self-confident young actor. Not only is he more talented than anyone else
his age, he has made the transition from child to young adult with far more grace
and far less awkwardness than anyone I ever knew at that age. Of course, every
young actor should be so lucky as to have a movie like Secondhand Lions come along
right when he is at that stage in life. Walter's transition from weenie boy to
promising young man captures exactly the same sort of change in Osment. Director
Tim McCanlies capitalized on Osment's coming of age by shooting the film in sequence
over the course of a long Texas summer, capturing the changes in the actor and
incorporating them into the story of Walter. Osment just gets better and better
as his career progresses, and at times when watching him I get the sense that
he is channeling Jimmy Stewart; he has the same sort of intelligence and kind,
good nature that Stewart showed in his younger, pre-WWII roles."
we are talking about the essence of that transition, then we might as well mention
a few words about the essence of Haley's role in the film itself. Again, leaving
my own words aside, I think Ed Peters captured some of the essence of Walter's
role in this film in his review for dvdreviews.com...
the films emotional center is Osments Walter. He is the audience surrogate
and his transformation from a frightened, cynical child to a hopeful, imaginative
young man echoes the classic childrens storybook hero, embodied in such
watershed live-action childrens movies as The Yearling and The Black Stallion."
the classic storybook hero... with intelligence and a kind, good nature like a
young Jimmy Stewart... these are just some of the everlasting impressions
Haley makes with each of his unique characters, and such praise is what makes
watching "Secondhand Lions" so endearing. What made Haley's performance
all the more astounding, and why it must be held in such high regard, is that
he accomplished all this while acting opposite two iconic film legends. It would
seem the lessons Haley learned in his first full feature film, "Bogus",
about commanding the same focus and screen presence when playing opposite the
gentle giant Gerard Depardieu, he would use those same techniques opposite both
Michael Caine and Robert Duvall... as stated above, "Osment just gets
better and better as his career progresses..."
next step in that progression will be the much anticipated release of "Home
of the Giants". Whether or not that step is a giant leap, or just a small
step forward remains to be seen, but we can be sure it will most certainly be
a step in the right direction. As we look at the progression of characters Haley
has played in each of his previous films... from Albert to Cole to Trevor to Romek
to David to Walter and next up is Robert... we can see that one of the hallmarks
of his career is each character is unique all on their own. Since each character
is unique, then that must mean each film is quite distinct as well, and "Secondhand
Lions" remains as distinctive a film as Haley has ever made.
much as I loved "Secondhand Lions" when it was first released, in the
three years since, it has come to mean so much more to me. I have quite literally
lost track of the number of times I have watched this film, and still each viewing
is like a warm embrace that you feel deep in your heart. I suppose I say that
about every Haley Film, but there can be no doubt this film stands just as tall
as any of his previous work. In the three years since, I think it is safe to say
that "Secondhand Lions" will forever remain first in all our hearts.
Thanks Haley for such a warm and wonderful film, and a true reflection of your
warm and wonderful self... you are the best.