Holes is an unusual film as it’s difficult to pigeonhole in the normal Di$ney subgroups. Part story of discovery, part story about ancient curse, Holes might be a little too smart for young children but not smart enough for older cinema goers.
Stanley Yelnats (newcomer Shia Leboeuf) is cursed through no fault of his own. It transpires that for hundreds of years every male Yelnats has been cursed with unbelievable bad luck. Stanley is no exception like his father (Henry Winkler) before him who has been trying to find the cure for smelly feet without success for years.
Stanley’s bad luck takes control when out of the blue he is hit on the head by a pair of running shoes which fall mysteriously from the sky. Before he knows what’s hit him (no pun intended) Stanley finds himself in a detention camp out in the middle of a desert called Camp Greenlake.
On arriving at the camp, Stanley is met by the fellow camp prisoners and their supervisory adults led by Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and camp counsellor Dr Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) and the sadistic Warden (Sigourney Weaver).
The whole purpose of the camp is to take bad boys, make them dig holes all day long in the hot sun and that will make them good boys. So soon Stanley and his new inmate friends are out in the deserts digging six foot deep, six foot wide holes seemingly at random.
Can Stanley unravel the secret of the holes and before the camp completely destroys him. Could there be something more to the Yelnats curse and can the key to breaking it be revealed in the secrets buried in the desert?
The real charm about Holes is the performances especially from newcomers Shia Leboeuf and Khleo Thomas as Zero, one of Stanley’s new friends from the Camp. Both of these exude charm and are very natural in front of the camera. The other highly entertaining performances are from Tim Blake Nelson and Jon Voight. Tim Blake Nelson plays the camp doctor with the same dim-witted idiotic energy that he displayed in O Brother Where Art Thou? Jon Voight steals the show with amazing attention to detail for his character from the way he spits in his hand to slick back his hair to his equally dim-witted approach to rehabilitation. Voight really seems to be enjoying himself with his cowboy hat, huge sideburns, sizeable gut and a hilarious switching from the two most common facial expressions of his character; a seething squint to an insanely bug-eyed glare.
The film does have two storylines running in parallel which are not mentioned as its better not knowing the origins of the Yelnats curse beforehand. Needless to say, the cast in the flashbacks are very entertaining and include Patricia Arquette, Dule Hill and the legendary Eartha Kitt.
Holes is based on a well known children’s book and the screenplay is done by the same author, Louis Sachar and directed by Andrew Davis who is better known as a director of action films such as Under Siege and The Fugitive.
On the whole…er…Holes is an entertaining and well told story, with performances that ooze charm or hilarity. It’s an unusual film but one that comes recommended for a family movie trip.
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