With "Agent Cody Banks," "What a Girl Wants," "Chasing Papi" and "Holes,"
there are finally some viable cinematic choices for families with children.
Adapted by writer Louis Sachar from his own novel, this tale weaves three
stories - one set in 18th century Europe, one in America's Old West and one in
contemporary Texas - into a fable about friendship and loyalty.
As young Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LeBeouf) - whose name is a palindrome
- walks down the street, he's hit in the head by a pair of valuable celebrity
sneakers. When he's discovered holding them, he's arrested and, despite the
pleas of his eccentric family (Henry Winkler, Nathan Davis, Siobhan Fallon
Hogan), sent off to Camp Green Lake. At this juvenile detention center in the
Texas desert run by menacing Mr. Sir (Jon Voight), the Counselor (Tim Blake
Nelson) and the Warden (Sigourney Weaver), the boys are forced to dig holes,
supposedly to built character. As he assimilates into the group, Stanley
befriends Zero (Khleo Thomas), a wary kid, and sees flashbacks that reveal the
Yelnats family curse. There's his Latvian ancestor (Damien Luvara) who broke a
promise to a gypsy seer (Eartha Kitt) and fled to America, where his life was
spared by a notorious bandit, Kissing Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette), whose
true love (Dule Hill) was killed. And like an inspirational jigsaw puzzle, all
the disparate pieces eventually fit.
Director Andrew Davis' time-tripping subplots are confusing, plus the
slow-paced middle of this coming-of-age adventure begs for judicious editing,
but it's an intriguing premise with some sly humor and a payoff worth waiting
for - plus no gratuitous sex or violence. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to
10, "Holes" is a suspenseful, serendipitous 7. Dig it!
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger