2003 Running time: 109 Certificate: 12 Rating: 3

Synopsis

Michael Caine and Robert Duvall play two grouchy codgers who are landed with their young grand-nephew Haley Joel Osment in this gentle country tale from Smallville writer Tim McCanlies. As the kid gets used to their crusty rustic ways, they open up to him with tales from their colourful past. Seems there's more to the old boys than meets the eye... or are they just having him on?

Director

  • Tim McCanlies

Cast

  • Michael Caine

  • Robert Duvall

  • Haley Joel Osment

  • Kyra Sedgwick

Review

The Disney Corporation must be consulting their lawyers after this flagrant breach of their monopoly on sentimental family sagas.

Grumpy old brothers Hub (Duvall) and Garth (Caine) live a private life on their ramshackle farm in the middle of rural Texas.

Local rumour has it that in a previous life they were bank robbers, Mafia hitmen or escaped war criminals, which would explain their seemingly limitless cash.

For their part, they're quite happy to let the gossip persist as long as nobody bothers them (apart from the routine visits of a family of grasping relatives and travelling salesman at whom who they take potshots).

However, the idyll is shattered with the arrival on their rickety porch of 14-year-old Walter (Osment), the son of flighty Mae (Kyra Sedgewick).

"We don't know anything about kids. If you want something you'll have to find it yourself," is about as welcoming as the old gits get.

However, as time passes Walter gets to know something about them and the mysterious missing 40 years when the brothers disappeared to Europe.

It appears they enjoyed a camaraderie which would most tellingly be evoked by Rolf Harris in his evergreen classic Two Little Boys.

The brothers were shanghai-ed into the French Foreign Legion and battled as anti-slave trade mercenaries against Bedouin bandits.

Flashbacks, in a bargain basement Indiana Jones style, reveal that Hub was in love with an African princess...but never lets on exactly what happened.

Filmed through a rose-tinted lens, life appears pretty idyllic for Walter as he warms towards his guardians and they even let him keep a lion, albeit a circus reject.

Caine and Duvall are amenable old curmudgeons and Joel Osment does a fair approximation of your stereotypical American kid.

Tim Evans

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