USA, 2003. Rated PG. 111 minutes.

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Shia LeBeouf, Tim Blake Nelson, Khelo Thomas, Jake M. Smith, Byron Cotton, Brenden Jefferson, Miguel Castro, Siobhan Fallon, Max Kasch, Henry Winkler
Writer: Louis Sachar, based on his novel
Music: Joel McNeely
Cinematographers: Bob Carlson, Stephen St. John
Producers: Lowell D. Blank, Andrew Davis, Mike Medavoy, Teresa Tucker-Davies
Director: Andrew Davis


Grade: B Review by Frances Nicole Rogers

S tanley Yelnats IV (Shia LeBeouf) is a young man plagued by misfortune. His family is cursed, his tiny apartment reeks of smelly feet, and, one tragic afternoon, he is convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Our innocent friend is forced, as punishment, to work under miserable conditions in the dreadful Camp Green Lake, which is neither a camp nor a lofty resort by a beautiful lake. Camp Green Lake is a contemptible place where, every day, delinquent boys must dig holes five feet deep and five deep wide in a dried up lake that has not been graced with cloud or rain for years.

The adult authorities of Camp Green Lake are intimidating, and the boys sentenced to work there are not much better. Voight, Weaver, and NelsonThey include Mr. Sir (Jon Voight), a paranoid man who dislikes lizards; Mr. Pedanski (Tim Blake Nelson), a camp counselor who specializes in mockery; the Warden (Sigourney Weaver), who hides in her cabin striking fear into the hearts of men; the boys--Squid (Jake M. Smith), Armpit (Brenden Jefferson), X-Ray (Brenden Jefferson), Magnet (Miguel Castro), and Zig-Zag (Max Kasch)--who delight in terrorizing anyone outside their little group; and, lastly, is a tiny, adorable, silent, angry, and illiterate boy named Zero (Khelo Thomas).

During his time in Camp Green Lake, Stanley faces such adversaries as poisonous lizards, venomous nail polish, a paranoid man with a gun, unbearable heat, an historical subplot, and, worst of all, illiteracy. I cannot fathom how innocent young children can bear to read such a miserable story!

Pardon the hyperbole. Holes isn't that miserable an experience. Along with last year's superb Tuck Everlasting, Holes signifies a return in quality in Disney's live-action department, just as its animation department is disintegrating. Holes is a fun film that features several good performances. It is not flawless, as there is a tedious historical plotline that, while eventually connecting itself to the present action at Camp Green Lake, seems disjointed. This is a problem that would've been worse had Holes been a serious adult film; but the historical plotline is there for romantically inclined pre-teens and little boys who love westerns, not for those who love legitimate screenwriting. Holes is pure entertainment aimed at today's strangely literate generation of young children, the parents who love them, and whoever else feels inclined to watch it. So sit, watch, and enjoy.

Review © April 2003 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
Images 2003 Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

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