Holes

"Good"

Holes Review


A rare kids' flick that engages youthful intellect and heart instead of patting youngsters on the head and spoon-feeding them stock anecdotes and tie-in toys, "Holes" is a fun family flick with a manifold plot about a smart, quiet teenager who gets the fate-fueled chance to reverse his family's hereditary bad luck.

It seems a curse was put the great-great-grandfather of curly-headed moppet Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf), and the trickle-down effect has landed the kid at a parched, ghost-town-like juvenile rehabilitation center in West Texas -- ironically called Camp Green Lake -- for a crime he didn't commit.

The venomous Warden (Sigorney Weaver, delighting in the role's sneering, sinister qualities) has a strange idea for building character in her charges: the boys spend every single day digging five-foot-deep holes in the dry lakebed. Her policies are enforced by the Mr. Sir, a classically menacing, beer-bellied, bow-legged figure played by Jon Voight in a scene-stealing standout performance. Sporting a graying Elvis pompadour, a villain's pencil mustache, twitchy wild eyes, and a low-slung holster, he's the kind of baddie who makes you giggle while making your skin crawl too, as he squints in the faces of potential escapees and seethes that in the desert "the buzzards'll pick ya clean by the end of the third day."

But despite having to dig all day and earn the respect of his not- so- tough- once- you- get- to- know- them fellow inmates, Stanley has time to wonder what the warden is really up to, since she's especially interested in anything unusual the boys find in their holes.

In the process of unraveling this mystery, director Andrew Davis and screenwriter Louis Sachar (who adapted his own popular novel) include several parallel-running flashbacks. One features an ancestor of Stanley's who was once robbed of a chest full of gold by a beautiful Old West bandit on a trail near where Camp Green Lake now stands. Another takes place in the once-prosperous lakeside hamlet, which was run in the 1880s by the Warden's evil granddaddy until a drought dried up the lake.

"Holes" is a story in which destiny rules and there are no coincidences -- and while it's not a sophisticated mystery, realizing how all the pieces fit together is as much fun on a kid-flick level as something like "The Usual Suspects" would be for adults. For example, Stanley's teaching a troubled inner-city orphan called Zero (the amazingly natural, funny and poignant Khleo Thomas) to read isn't just a feel-good, Sunday-school testament to his character. It becomes integral to revealing how the missing treasure and the girl bandit (Patricia Arquette) relate to Camp Green Lake and the Old West town, where a black produce vendor (Dulé Hill) and a white schoolteacher (also played by Arquette) were persecuted for falling in love more than 100 years before.

The plot has a few unfortunate gaffes (when it turns out Zero isn't an orphan, there's no explanation of where his mother has been all these years) and the film is inundated with an insufferably trite score (by Joel McNeely). But Davis ("Collateral Damage," "A Perfect Murder") has a lot of respect for the smarts of his target audience and never falls back on clichés (there are a few) to drive the story assuming kids won't be any the wiser.

Inspired by "Cool Hand Luke" for its inmate antagonism and camaraderie, and a considerable step above most multiplex family fare, "Holes" isn't genius, but it is generously enjoyable all-ages entertainment.



Holes

Facts and Figures

Run time: 117 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th April 2003

Box Office USA: $67.3M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Chicago Pacific Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 103 Rotten: 30

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Warden Walker, as Marion Sevillo, as Dr. Pendanski, as Miss Kathryn Barlow, as Stanley Yelnats/Caveman, as Hector Zeroni, Jake M. Smith as Squid, as Armpit, Brenden Richard Jefferson as X-Ray, as Madame Zeroni, as Stanley's Mother

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.