Movie Review: Holes

A Hole Lot of Fun
“You take a bad boy and make him dig holes all day in the hot sun, it turns him into a good boy. That’s our philosophy here at
Camp Green Lake.” At least according to Mr. Sir, the cantankerous boss of this desert penal farm for youth offenders (played with obvious delight by the brilliant Jon Voight) into which our haplessly innocent young hero, Stanley Yelnats IV, has fallen in Holes. A bizarre philosophy you might say, but one that has a practical purpose, as Stanley eventually realizes. How Stanley got here, and what he has to do to get out, are all revealed in this rich and rewarding tale that involves three different time periods: present-day Texas, the Old West and Old World Latvia, in addition to four generations of the Yelnats men, dating back to Stanley’s great-grandfather.

Based on Louis Sachar’s award-winning novel of the same name, with a screenplay by Sachar, and directed by Andrew Davis (The Fugitive and A Perfect Murder, among others), Holes is an excellent film for young and old alike. It’s not often that a kids’ film gets this high a caliber of cast and treatment. In addition to Voight, it stars Sigourney Weaver as the mysterious “Warden,” Patricia Arquette and Tim Blake Nelson (of O Brother, Where Art Thou?) along with a great group of young actors headed by Shia LaBeouf, who plays Stanley.

Holes is chock-full of themes about friendship, courage, perseverance and combating injustice, but mainly it’s just a great story told with a lot of humor and heart, plus a great soundtrack! The story is too grown-up and sophisticated for young kids (its themes are mature and there’s a killing and angry mob scenes in the Old West section), but it should be seen by everyone from about age 8 on up. Rated PG.