Australian Council on Children and the Media

Secondhand Lions

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Viol.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Secondhand Lions
  • a review of Secondhand Lions completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 March 2004.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the level of violence and scariness, this movie is not recommended for young children under 8.
Children aged 8-13 Children 8-13 would need some parental guidance.
Children over the age of 13 Children over 13 should be okay to see this movie with or without parental guidance

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Secondhand Lions
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Low level violence
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Garth and Hub are two cantankerous, old, hillbilly brothers who live in a dilapidated farmhouse and are content to spend their days shooting, fishing or just sitting on the verandah. That all changes however when the son of their niece Mae comes to stay. Mae is a single mum who decides to leave her son Walter with her uncles while she goes to Las Vegas to try to find herself a man.

Walter is naturally apprehensive about staying with these two old men; his room is up in the attic, which looks as though no-one has been in for a long time. One night, during the night, Walter wakens to the sound of a shotgun and sees Uncle Hub wandering down by the lake in his nightshirt. He sneaks down to investigate and discovers Uncle Hub is actually sleepwalking. The following day when he questions Uncle Garth about it, the story of the two brothers’ lives slowly unfolds to reveal lives filled with adventure and romance.

In 1914 the brothers left to explore the pleasures of Europe and while drinking in a bar one night find themselves enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. This takes them to Africa where they’re involved in many battles. While they’re in Africa, Hub meets and falls in love with Princess Jasmine who unfortunately is betrothed to a sheik. Fearless and courageous, Hub swordfights fearsome Arabs to rescue Jasmine and take her away. The sheik puts a price of 10,000 pieces of gold on Hub’s head, which by trickery the brothers manage to win for themselves along with Jasmine and the Sheik’s respect.

However, they don’t live happily ever after and the tragedy that befalls them eventuates in them living the secluded life that Walter finds them in. Nevertheless, they still maintain their adventurous spirit and often look for new and unusual ways to spend their time, including buying some ex-circus African animals, including a lion, to hunt for sport. It is their adventurous spirit that ultimately brings an end to their fulfilled lives.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, some realistic. The sword fights and war battles though are not graphic:

  • Walter is attacked by dogs when he arrives at the farmhouse
  • Garth and Hub ‘fish’ using rifles
  • Garth and Hub repeatedly shoot at travelling salesmen
  • Walter kicks Hub in the shins
  • During the gun battles in the war, there are many explosions with people falling down dead. A horse gets shot and falls over.
  • There are several sword fighting scenes – no blood but a man gets killed.
  • A giraffe kicks Walter through a hole in the crate.
  • Two horses are racing each other along the beach, they collide and fall over.
  • Hub pulls out a knife to stab his attacker but discovers it’s Jasmine. She says she’d rather slit her own throat than marry the Sheik.
  • While Hub is eating in a bar, some youths attempt to take his food from him and Hub attacks them. They then produce knives and Garth pulls out a rifle. Hub fights all four of them, punching and throwing them.
  • Mae’s new boyfriend Stan tries to force Walter to show him where the old men store their money. Walter refuses so Stan punches him in the stomach. Walter runs away and Stan chases after him. Stan starts to beat him up when Jasmine, the lioness who has become Walter’s friend, attacks Stan, badly mauling him.
  • Stan returns from hospital bandaged from head to foot. Hub says he’s lucky the lion found him before he did and twists his nose.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There is some material that would scare children in this age group. As well as the violent scenes mentioned above the following would also scare young children:

  • Mae abandoning Walter to her uncles.
  • The attic where Walter has to sleep is quite spooky with owls hooting.
  • Hub and Garth wanting to shoot the animals; Walter won’t let them shoot the lion.
  • Children let Jasmine out of her crate and she roars at them and runs away.
  • Walter finds Jasmine in the corn field and she jumps on Walter but she is only playing. Hub nearly shoots the lion.
  • Hub tells Walter that Jasmine (the princess) had died during childbirth.
  • Walter sneaks down to the cellar at night with a torch which is quite scary. The dogs appear suddenly, startling him.
  • Jasmine (the lion) dies of a heart attack when she attacks Stan.
  • Walter jumps out of a moving car.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disburbed by the above mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group would probably not be scared by this movie. However they could still be upset when the lion dies and also when Stan beats up Walter. Also younger children in this age group could be upset by Mae abandoning Walter.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group would be okay to see this movie.

Sexual references

There are no sexual references except for when Mae first arrives at the farm, Garth asks Hub if he’s sent for a hooker. Also Walter says he knows that his mother is an only child and that he knows what uncles really are.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity or sexual activity.

Use of substances

There is quite a bit of drinking and smoking. Hub and Garth teach Walter to chew tobacco but it makes him vomit.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie including the occasional use of the following words:

  • damn
  • piss off
  • tit
  • bastard
  • arse
  • crap.

In a nutshell

The take home message is that it is important to maintain a positive attitude and good ethics without relying on material possessions. Also that older people have a lot of life experiences to share with the young.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • courage
  • loyalty
  • forgiveness
  • kindness
  • compassion.

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • intolerance
  • selfishness
  • use of violence to solve conflicts
  • greed.

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