"But if you forget to come back for Madame Zeroni, you and your family will be cursed for always and eternity." Those were the exact words spoken to young Elya Yelnats the day he forgot to repay Madame Zeroni. From then on his family was cursed with bad luck. One hundred years later Stanley Yelnats IV is accused of stealing a pair of cleats from a major league baseball player and sent to Camp Green Lake (a dry lake bed in the middle of the desert). It never rains at Camp Green Lake, it hasn't for one hundred years. The secretive and mysterious Warden has each inmate spend every day digging one hole to "build character." But when an artifact from the famous "Kissin' Kate" Barlow is found in a hole, the Warden forces the boys to work double time leading Stanley to deduce they're digging because the Warden is looking for something. But what? And how is the mystery of Camp Green Lake connected to Stanley's family curse? Written by
Khleo Thomas celebrated his Bar Mitzvah (the traditional coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish teens) while making Holes (2003). See more »
When Stanley gets hit on the head with the shoes at the beginning of the movie, you can clearly see Stanley's face grimace just before the shoes "unexpectedly" hit him. See more »
[Barfbag walks towards a rattlesnake]
Hey, Barfbag. What are you doing?
[Barfbag takes his shoe and sock off and steps on the snake, which bites him]
See more »
At the very end of the credits, Hector "Zero" Zeroni quotes the curse his great-great-great-grandmother made with her accent and speech patterns. See more »
Ostensibly a film for adolescents, Holes is a film with too much plot and, at two hours long, not enough time to tell it in. Despite that, it is refreshingly original and offers some satisfying performances from both younger and older members of the cast.
Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) is wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of trainers and sentenced to eighteen months at Camp Green Lake, a boy's detention centre deep in the desert where he and the other inmates spend each day digging 5ft deep by 5ft wide holes beneath the scorching sun. The camp's warden (Sigourney Weaver) aided by her henchmen Mr. Sir (Jon Voight) and Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) claim such treatment is character building but, of course, have an ulterior motive.
Saddled with a sometimes intrusive and usually inappropriate soundtrack, Holes looks like a music video at times and, because of the wealth of information it has to fit into its running time, contains a convoluted structure featuring repeated flashbacks and, sometimes, even flashbacks within flashbacks. All this suggests a requirement for the viewer to be familiar with screenwriter Louis Sachar's novel on which it is based, but this isn't necessarily the case. The film's story can be followed by anyone who hasn't read the book, but there's a depth of characterisation that is sorely missing from the film that anyone who knows the novel would presumably be able to draw on to fill in the gaps.
Most of the real personalities belong to the adult characters. The triumvirate of Weaver, Voight and Nelson stray dangerously close to parody at times but manage somehow to avoid the obvious pitfalls and entertain while giving us reasonably hissable villains. Our young heroes, Stanley and Zero (Khleo Thomas), work well together and writer Sachar builds a largely adversarial relationship between the inmates that would be as recognisable on the school playground as it is in a detention camp.
Perhaps the story's main failing is the impression it gives of just being too clever. Every story has to tie up its loose ends, but the more strands the story has and this one has many the more contrived the ending appears when they are finally all neatly pulled together. But at least it's different from much of the media offered to teenagers today in that it offers a thoughtful and intelligent story, and it is obvious that both Sachar and director Andrew Davis have put a lot of care and attention to detail into the telling of this tale.
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