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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25%
Average: 3.57%
Pretty Bad: 4.46%
Total Crap: 6.25%

3 reviews, 94 user ratings

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by Erik Childress

"Part of the Resurgence of Imaginative Kid Flicks"
4 stars

When I see a movie like Holes, I thank God that some decency still exists in this world. The kind of decency that suggests that we haven’t lost everything yet where kids can grow up through their imagination and not be forcefed a lot of sheltered, watered-down bedtime stories. There used to be a time when stories of the Grimms and Roald Dahl would put hair on your chest (even the girls), with twisted flights of fancy that would *want* you to stay up all night. Adventures, quirkiness, mystery, violence and valuable life lessons are just the things I want youngsters to be reading and Holes is just the kind of movie I want made based on those readings.

Stanley Yelnats IV (terrific newcomer Shia LeBeouf) is part of a generation of cursed males in his family. Years and years ago, unrequited love caused one Yelnats to break his promise to a gypsy and the curse began. It manifests itself in different ways and in Stanley’s case it comes when a pair of shoes konks him on the head and he is accused of stealing them. He can go to jail or to the youth detention known as Camp Green Lake. A pleasant name like that has Stanley choosing the latter. But when he’s transported out to the middle of the desert where escape causes more worry for the prisoners than the guards, Stanley feels the true weight of the curse.

At Camp Green Lake, the boys go through a daily regiment of digging individual holes. They are told it builds character and grows them out of their amoral ways. However, if they find anything in those holes, they get the day off. Hmmm. The Warden (Sigourney Weaver) runs a tight ship with right-hand men, Mr. Sir (Jon Voight), who is what Frankenstein’s Egor would be like if he were from Texas and the patronizing Mr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson). All the boys develop their own identities away from home with nicknames like X-Ray, Armpit, Magnet and Zig-Zag. The one who communicates with Stanley the most though is the one who talks the least (another terrific newcomer Khleo Thomas) and goes by Zero (“because there’s nothing going on upstairs.”)

Intercut with the camp stories is the prior history of the territory which involves the legend of Kissin’ Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette). It’s no secret that the prim-and-proper schoolteacher would later evolve into the rootin’-tootin’ gunslinger as an early reveal unwisely identifies Arquette, but her story is still fascinating even without the mystery. As the school marm, she fell in love with a gentle soul named Sam (The West Wing’s Dule Hill) who sold onion-based remedies and occasionally helped out Miss Katherine in exchange for her sweet peaches. Racism was the sin of the day, however, and the spoiled Charles “Trout” Walker (Scott Plank) would do whatever necessary to keep them apart.

The backstory clearly holds a key to the present as all backstories are accustomed to do, but Holes doesn’t reveal its hand too quickly. Even while your first guess is likely the right one with all the clues being dug up, how they are presented is the key and you may find yourself concentrating so hard on one that another subtle surprise may be lurking right behind you. The connections between the past, present and simplest throwaway plotpoints are handled with a gentle slight of hand by director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) through flashbacks and forwards and sidetrips to new subplots, so audiences will have no problems keeping up.

Prior to this film, I was unfamiliar with the original novel by Louis Sachar, but based on what I understand is a rather faithful adaptation (sans Stanley’s weight problem) by Sachar himself, the popularity of the book is comprehendible. While everyone is downing Harry Potter books as if they were required reading, I hope more parents become aware of this one. Along with just being a page-turner of a tale, its symbolism and themes of friendship, fate and how cruelty begets violence are invaluable models on the timeline of growing into an independent young adult. The violence inflicted in the “PG” film is abrupt and not without consequences, a refreshing change of pace from someone getting hit in the head with a shovel and leaving a small red impact mark.

It’s a depressing time when Kangaroo Jack, What a Girl Wants and insultingly inferior Disney sequels are the options for family viewing these days. The moniker of a family film should refer to one that not only parents can take their kids to, but that they are proud to. Just because a film gets less than a “PG-13” rating, it’s an attention grabber that gets moms and dads to race to the multiplex. At least to drop their children off. Holes is an experience they will want to have alongside their kids. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable two hours that will open doors for many discussions afterwards. Fun is one thing, but no one is holding kangaroo court after viewing the Bruckheimer sponsorship. And no one is rushing out to read the paperback adaptation of The Country Bears. Digging holes is hardly the way to build character, but experiencing stories like Holes is certainly a start.

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originally posted: 04/18/03 09:34:22
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User Comments

11/23/13 Patricia love this movie it was so unique 5 stars
9/06/12 Chris. I'm nearly 30...I guess I should have watched it when I was younger? 2 stars
10/03/10 Dr.Lao Weird, not in a good way, but rather in an obnoxious, insulting way 2 stars
10/16/09 Charlotte I think this movie is fantastic worth watching 5 stars
6/02/09 Jeff Wilder That rarity: a family movie that will actually appeal to the whole family. 4 stars
5/03/08 k. holes is the best.I loved jake,shia,and khleo 5 stars
5/27/07 caddy i love holes it is soooo cool it is my fav move ever 5 stars
4/20/07 caddy i love holes it is my fav move 5 stars
11/11/06 caddy i love holes it is the coollest thank i ever seen 5 stars
7/28/06 Dave Webber The coincidences seemed forced, a confused mix between comedy and drama. 3 stars
5/17/06 Paoal Gonzalez it was pretty cool 5 stars
4/03/06 JRE it was just good 3 stars
11/24/05 Erin Your one my favorite stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/22/05 nicole martin its a realy good and exiting film and zero and stanley are so cute and sexy!!! 5 stars
10/21/05 C Hillarious 5 stars
10/21/05 R humorus 5 stars
10/21/05 Y funny 5 stars
10/21/05 S neat 5 stars
10/21/05 T cool 5 stars
10/21/05 A Awesome 5 stars
10/21/05 L Great 5 stars
10/21/05 Anonamous ugh boring 1 stars
9/20/04 Dan WTFPWNT 5 stars
7/01/04 fred wiked 5 stars
6/01/04 Elizabeth Hasse This movie was totally awsome and khleo looked totally cute! 5 stars
4/04/04 Precious Lewis It's off the hook!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/01/04 The More You Know Not to be underestimated - it's ez to get sucked down rabbit holes chasing the past! 5 stars
3/22/04 Amanda Good Family movie 4 stars
3/09/04 rachel ross its was GREAT!!! 5 stars
11/30/03 Reuben Great movie for all ages in my family 5 stars
11/28/03 greg good 5 stars
11/27/03 Two-G - horror_blood2 (aka Double G) great movie 5 stars
11/16/03 Samantha Ferry It was totally awesome and Khleo is so adorable! 5 stars
11/12/03 Chance Wonderful 5 stars
11/03/03 kate i liked ''ZERO'' & THE MOVIE 2 5 stars
10/25/03 Darin ??????????????????????????????????? 5 stars
10/20/03 Desiree Rosbeck I loved it 5 stars
10/15/03 snowconehead It wasn't boring. That's saying something. 4 stars
10/13/03 Jenni Klassen Tottally awsome I luv zero 5 stars
10/06/03 Aspen Schaefer I think the movie was so cool you made zero look so cute, too. 5 stars
10/06/03 jillian gaymon this move was so good zero was looking hot ! 5 stars
10/02/03 Morganne Bowers I loved the movie holes it was the best movie ever and ican watch it over and over. 5 stars
9/12/03 Tawny This is the best movie ever!!!!!!! I saw it 5 times in the theater! Shia is soooo cute!!! 5 stars
9/11/03 R.W. Welch Intricate, off-beat plot line with funky characters. Entertaining. 4 stars
8/18/03 Katie OMG IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GREAT!!!!! it was the best i have ever seen ever in my life!!!! 5 stars
8/09/03 Walt Disney [Sounds of rolling over in grave] 1 stars
7/24/03 Udoka I enjoyed the movie just as much as I enjoyed the book! Good acting as well! 5 stars
7/14/03 Christian Harding Good movie but not the best on the planet. 4 stars
7/06/03 Hanna Tottaly rocked 5 stars
7/03/03 Jodi Awesome movie I love it!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/21/03 Anne Shia LeBeouf is amazing! 5 stars
6/16/03 stefani The movie was the best i've ever seen 5 stars
6/14/03 Chantal Bellefeuille Great cast and crew for a great movie! 5 stars
6/07/03 Lissa This is the best movie EVER!!!!!! 5 stars
6/06/03 krazee4khleo the movie was great! khleo was the best! 5 stars
6/04/03 christa absolutly great film seen it 3 times read the book much more awesome 5 stars
6/02/03 courtney its a great movie 5 stars
5/30/03 Odessa Awesome,great movie on my opinion,others might think different but i love it! 5 stars
5/29/03 Jennifer It was funny!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/28/03 Kali MacKinnon I love Shia LaBeouf I think he was the best !!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/27/03 Kacey Johnson It is the BEST movie I have ever seen!I think they should have more movies with those kids! 5 stars
5/26/03 Christy HOLES IS THA BEST MOVIE AND BOOK!!!!!!!!! Khleo Thomas and Shia are HOTTER THAN THA SUN!!!! 5 stars
5/23/03 Kayla Adams I loved it. I'm going to see it for the 6th time already. 5 stars
5/22/03 Joe did not 1 stars
5/22/03 Todd NICELY MADE...especially for Disney! 4 stars
5/22/03 Christina bitch It was sweet! 5 stars
5/21/03 jill no way 1 stars
5/20/03 Troy no 1 stars
5/20/03 Pixie MSKJ Luver The Movie was GREAT...Max,Shia,Khleo,and Jake were better 5 stars
5/19/03 Stephanie Iv seen it twice it was better the 2nd time I liked the imatation of Madam zeroni atthe end 5 stars
5/19/03 Andrew Carden Voight Is Well-Cast, but Film Is Overdone and Confusing. 2 stars
5/17/03 mike nope 1 stars
5/17/03 Turtle A worthy adaptation of a great book, with some fantastic acting. 4 stars
5/17/03 NxtPlato Great movie. Well written, "Zero" is awesome. 5 stars
5/06/03 Ayla DeLaat It was the greatest film yet, and it was after my favorate book!!!!!! 5 stars
5/03/03 Jackson62 Not "The Rookie" but thankfully not "Kangaroo Jack". Fun movie! 4 stars
5/01/03 Allison Weidl Great movie I laughed and fell in love with it all at once! 5 stars
4/30/03 Nikki Awesome movie! 5 stars
4/30/03 Kayla The movie was so totally awesome! Everyone did a great job especially Khleo! Ur So Hot!!!! 5 stars
4/30/03 Amber It was amazinly great. I want Khleo sooooooo much! 5 stars
4/29/03 kat good film!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
4/29/03 Rika The Movie Was Sort Of Confusing But It`s Alright 3 stars
4/29/03 bubba so cool 5 stars
4/28/03 Blubberbot Not sure why people like this so much. I thought it was boring. 2 stars
4/28/03 Misty It`s O.k 4 stars
4/28/03 Briney It was a great movie for all ages!! 5 stars
4/27/03 maya i loved this movie somuch. the characters were so great....almost as good as the book! 5 stars
4/27/03 Nina best movie ive seen 5 stars
4/27/03 ho ho awesome 5 stars
4/27/03 Godzillafan54 sucked beyond all believe 2 stars
4/23/03 Wayside Horace Surprisingly great young adult adv. story by the great Louis Sachar. Wonderful acting, too 5 stars
4/22/03 Elizabeth It rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/20/03 George Jung What a waste of Tim Blake Nelson. This movie sucked! 1 stars
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  18-Apr-2003 (PG)



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