a critiQal film review Holes (2003)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: Stanley Yelnats IV (LaBeouf) is unlucky. It's not his fault, though - it's his great great grandfather, Stanley Yelnats I, who got the family cursed. Because of this curse, he's wrongfully accused of stealing shoes from a charity auction and sentenced to six months at a camp in the desert. There, he is put in D-Tent, and made to dig holes in the desert all day. But, maybe his luck is starting to turn around, because the camp may be just what he needs to cure his cursed family.

645 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 13s)
  • ...Shia makes the transition from small screen to big screen in a movie the whole family will enjoy.

I’d heard a bit about Holes back when it came out, but it didn’t really interest me. A movie based on a children’s book – and brought to us by Disney? What was the last interesting non-animated film Disney made? Mary Poppins (1964)? The previews didn’t really look that good either. It just seemed to be about a bunch of kids digging holes – sounded kinda boring to me.

Recently, Heather and I were looking through a friend’s DVDs, trying to find something to borrow that we hadn’t seen yet. I noticed Holes, and decided to give it a shot. After all, since we didn’t have to pay to rent it, what did we have to lose?

There were a surprising number of big name actors in Holes – surprising, since they didn’t mention them at all in the previews I saw. Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette and Jon Voight – all in here. They all did pretty good jobs in their roles, especially Patricia Arquette. She portrayed Kissin’ Kate Barlow, a villain shown in flashbacks throughout the film. She really brought an appeal to her outlaw, and was able to keep the viewer wanting to see more in every scene she was in – a good thing, since the flashbacks told a story in parts throughout the film.

Shia LaBeouf, who has only been seen in a small TV role (Disney’s “Even Stevens” (TV)), also was able to keep the viewer interested in his character. Apparently his acting skills were able to make the transition from the small screen to the big screen. His character does seem a bit dazed throughout most of the film, but he manages to keep the viewer’s interest despite that.

With the flashbacks interrupting a lot, it’s a harder feat than usual, but he still manages to do it – mostly with the help of the rather quiet, yet entirely likable Zero, played by Khleo Thomas. His character plays a major role in Holes as well, so it’s surprising that he’s not mentioned as one of the main actors in the film (he’s shown in the secondary actors instead).

The plot of Holes is surprisingly well done for a family-friendly film. There’s a good storyline, and the flashbacks do a good job of setting up the background of the film. There’s a reason for everything that takes place in the film, from the location of the camp to the strange experiments that Stanley’s father (played by Henry Winkler) works on. It all ties together by the end, and the viewer will appreciate the attention to detail.

Maybe other movies based on novels should take note of this. After all, the screenwriter for Holes is the same person who wrote the book, so he would be more likely to pay attention to every little detail than someone who is re-writing the book into a film. This attention to detail is what will leave the viewer with the most positive remembrance of the film. No questions go unanswered that the viewer will be wondering about after the film (which always degrades a movie in my mind -unless the movie is supposed to leave you guessing, that is). Just an appreciation of the movie as a whole.

Holes is one of those rare movies where each part contributes equally to the movie experience. All of the characters are very well done, and no one really stands out.

The dialogue is well written, and flows easily from each actor. There’s not one line where you think “Nobody would actually say something like that”, which sadly, seems to be the trend of movies these days (hello, The Transporter (2002) or xXx (2002), just to name a few).

Add into the mix a storyline that will keep young and old interested, and Holes has achieved the near impossible – a family movie the whole family will actually enjoy.

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