"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
When Zero is running away from camp, the Warden has her hands on her hips. In the next shot, her hands were relaxed at her sides. 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]
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"In Loving Memory of Scott Plank" appears after the end credits. See more »
Holes is a fable about the past and the way it affects the present lives of at least three people. One of them I will name, the other two are mysteries and will remain so. Holes is a story about Stanley Yelnats IV. He is unlucky in life. Unlucky in fact characterizes the fates of most of the Yelnats men and has been since exploits of Stanley IV's `no good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.' Those particular exploits cursed the family's men to many an ill-fated turn. It is during just such a turn that we meet Stanley IV. He has been accused, falsely, of stealing a pair of baseball shoes, freshly donated to a homeless shelter auction, by a famous baseball player. He is given the option of jail, or he can go to a character building camp. `I've never been to camp before,' says Stanley. With that the Judge enthusiastically sends him off to Camp Green Lake.
Camp Green Lake is an odd place, with an odd philosophy, `If you take a bad boy, make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy.' We learn this little pearl of wisdom from Mr. Sir (John Voight) one of the camp's `counselors.' We get the impression right away that he is a dangerous man. He at least wears his attitude honestly; he doesn't think he is nice. The camp's guidance councilor, Mr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) is a different matter entirely. He acts the part of the caring sensitive counselor, but he quick, quicker than anyone else in authority to unleash the most cruel verbal barbs at his charges. The Warden has a decided capacity for meanness, but other than that she is a mystery. These three rule Camp Green Lake, a place that has no lake. It is just a dry dusty desert filled with holes, five feet deep and five feet wide. Its local fauna, seem only to be the vultures, and dangerous poisonous yellow-spotted lizards. Green Lake seems is, in many ways, a haunted place.
Holes works in spite of the strange setting, and the strange story, because it understands people. Specifically because it is honest in the way it deals with the inmates of Camp Green Lake. The movie captures the way boys interact with one another perfectly. It captures the way boys can bully each other, they way they can win admiration, the way they fight with one another, and the way boys ally themselves along the age line. It is this well nuanced core that makes everything else in the film believable. What is also refreshing about this film the good nature of its main character. He does not believe in a family curse, he is not bitter about the infamous exploits of his `no good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.' In fact he loves hearing the story. Stanley IV is not bitter about the past, and determined not let it affect him in the way it has affected his father and grandfather. There is at times a lot of sadness in the film, but not a lot wallowing angsty silliness. And that is refreshing.
Holes is an intelligent, insightful and witty family movie. It entertains, and not in any cheap way. It is not a comedy, though it has its laughs. It dares to be compelling, where many family movies tend to play it safe and conventional. As such it transcends the family movie genera and simply becomes a good film that everyone can enjoy. I give it a 10.
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