Some movies have a limited target audience, and HOLES is certainly one of them.
Louis Sachar's screenplay is based on his popular kids' book by the same name.
Kids who fell in love with the book back in junior high will undoubtedly want to
see it. Many readers of the book at my screening said that they were happy with
the movie since it was such a literal adaptation of the novel.
But, if you aren't already pre-sold on the movie, as a fan of the book would be,
there is little in it to amuse or intrigue you, no matter how young or old you
are. The film's originality ends with the its basic concept about kids in
reform school digging holes in the desert. After you've heard the plot's setup,
there isn't much more to keep your interest. There frequently isn't even enough
to keep you awake.
In order, one supposes, to put some energy and edge into the production, Disney
hired adult action movie maker Andrew Davis (UNDER SIEGE). His brain must have
been fried in the hot Texas sun since this picture is frequently nearly
The story concerns one Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf). You'll notice that
Stanley Yelnats is a palindrome. Clever that. The men in the Yelnats family
have suffered from a curse for the past one hundred and fifty years. The
audience is cursed by having to suffer through more bad flashbacks that you can
One day Stanley is arrested for stealing shoes that someone threw on his head
from a bridge. For this crime, he is sentenced to eighteen months at Camp
Greenlake -- a reformatory that is neither green nor arid. Once there, he is
given the nickname of Caveman and forced to spend his days, along with his new
buddies, Zero (Khleo Thomas), Squid (Jake M. Smith), Armpit (Byron Cotton),
X-Ray (Brenden Jefferson) and Magnet (Miguel Castro), digging holes in the
desert. Supposedly this is to build character, but it's obvious that the warden
(Sigourney Weaver) is forcing them to do it in order to find something. The
only semi-decent performance in the film is delivered by Jon Voight, who plays a
weird guy called Mr. Sir, the camp's second in command.
Be ready constantly to have to suspend disbelief. Again, the book's admirers
will have no trouble, but, if you haven't read the book, the exhausting physical
feat in the ending will be way too much to buy.
Skip the movie. Read the book. Or just skip the movie.
HOLES runs a long 1:51. It is rated PG for "violence, mild language and some
thematic elements" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes