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Holes - the book - was an excellent "teen" novel that deservedly broke out and found a wider audience. Surprisingly Holes - the film - is almost as good. This is probably because for once Disney did the sensible thing and hired original author Louis Sachar to co-write the screenplay. As a result, this is a pretty faithful adaptation which retains most of the things that made the book so enjoyable.
Having been found guilty of a crime he didn't commit, teenager Stanley Yelnats is sent to Camp Green Lake, a young offender's institute in the middle of the desert. In order to build character, each boy has to dig one hole five feet deep by five feet wide every day, under the watchful eye of guard Mr Sir, the unctuous Dr Pedanski and the volatile Warden Walker. Needless to say, there is more going on at Camp Green Lake than first meets the eye.
At first glance, Holes appears to be a rather simple film and something of a disjointed one. The plot is not particularly complex or challenging. It seems to meander along following Stanley as he tries to fit into his new surroundings and make friends with the camp's other inmates.
t also leaps around with no respect for chronology, following multiple plot strands in no particular order or logical fashion. One minute we are following the misadventures of Stanley, the next scene is a flashback to the late 19th century Italy, where one of Stanley's ancestors brings a curse upon the whole family. Then we are off to 19th century America, where a romance blossoms between a pretty young schoolteacher and (Shock! Horror!) a black farmer. There seems to be little or no no connection between these disparate elements and initially you wonder what on earth is going on. Stick with it, though, because Holes is a very cleverly constructed, multi-layered film. The more you watch, the more you understand what is going on. If you just accept that at first everything is not quite what it seems, then you'll be fine.
It's this element that will make or break the film. It's a bit like the Sixth Sense. Holes builds slowly, gradually fleshing out different elements of the plot, but it's not until the end that you see how they all slot together to form a bigger picture. It's not particularly "clever" - certain elements of it will quickly become obvious for most adult viewers - but it is well constructed so this won't spoil it for older viewers, whilst young children probably won't see the ending coming.
That's another good thing about Holes: it really is a film that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Apart from the occasional bit of mild swearing, the whole family can sit down and watch it. Kids will love the characters and the story; adults will be able to appreciate the clever storytelling whilst still enjoying the plot.
As for the cast, that's not too shabby either. A young Shia Labeouf makes for a likeable lead as Stanley. LaBeouf is smart, charming and suitably endearing without (unusual for a Disney film) being sickeningly cute. The other kids in the camp might not get quite so much individual exposure (and certainly not as much in the book) but they stand up well enough.
It's the adults who really steal the show , though and it's many are clearly having a whale of a time. Sigourney Weaver is superb as the scheming Warden Walker. She chews up the role for all it's worth; as nice as pie one minute , a venom-spitting snake the next. Freed from the pressure carrying the whole film on her shoulders, Weaver relishes this support role and revels in being able to play a nasty character for once.
Even better is Jon Voight. Voight is one of those chronic over actors, who is nevertheless brilliantly watchable in any role. Train a camera on Voight and he can't stop pulling funny faces and twitching. It should be awful and make you want to avoid any film he is in, yet somehow it works. As such, his unpleasant camp guard Mr Sir is a real highlight. Throw in Henry Winkler (The Fonz) as Stanley's dad and Patricia Arquette as a wild west outlaw and it's hard to see where the cast puts a foot wrong.
What is perhaps a little disappointing is that the book's plot and characters have been trimmed to fit on the big screen - or more precisely the characters. Although Stanley was always the main focus of the book, some of his friends also had their moments, something that's lost here. In particular, the characters of Armpit and X-Ray (who were sufficiently developed to be the main focus of the sequel, Small Steps) are sidelined. They do appear, but their characters are much reduced. It's a sacrifice that was necessary to make the film work on screen, but it's a shame that some of the book's richness is lost as a result.
In the immortal words of Mrs SWSt, "a funky little film." That's as good a description as any, I guess. It's fun, it's different and it's something that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It 's a "film for children" in the best sense of the phrase: something that can be fun for kids without being dull for adults. It goes against every fibre in my being to write this but for once, Disney should be credited with doing a great job.
Director: Andrew Davis
Running time: approx. 117 minutes
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
A little while ago I wrote a review of the book 'Holes' by Louis Sachar. I mentioned that this book - despite having spent a very long time in the bestseller lists - was one I had totally missed. Brilliant, brilliant book I can't recommend highly enough.
Anyway, someone left a comment on that review saying that the film was, for once, as good as the book - a comment for which I am very grateful, as until that point I didn't even know there was a film! As my daughter (aged 12), my husband and I all adored the book, we were looking forward to the film with high expectations - and it didn't disappoint. My son (aged 10) who didn't know the story promptly declared the film his favourite ever and is now desperate to read the book.
The story starts with the wonderfully named Stanley Yelnats (I love palindromes, so this name got me hooked from the start!) who is sent to a juvenile 'Camp' for a crime he didn't commit. He soon discovers this is no holiday camp - but nor does it seem like any other juvenile correctional facility. The inmates all have to dig holes, in the blistering desert sun - one hole a day, five feet deep, five feet in diameter. But why? For me, this was a 'get under your skin' mystery - I cared about the characters and I wanted answers.
The story flips at times to one of two others. The first is the tale of Stanley's great-great-grandfather, his encounter with the mysterious Madam Zeroni, and the subsequent curse on the Yelnats family. Everything bad is blamed on Stanley's 'no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather!' The second is the tale of notorious outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow, who kisses her victims after she kills them.
This is one of those stories where the twists and turns in the plot are definitely to be discovered along the way - there is a real joy in coming to realise how the seemingly unrelated strands of plot weave together into a seamless whole.
One thing we all hate as a family is when a book we have loved is altered beyond recognition for a film. Choruses of 'it wasn't like that in the book' tend to disrupt viewing somewhat! In this case, the film is astonishingly close to the book - this is probably due in no small part to the fact that the screenplay was written by Louis Sachar himself. Where there are minor deviations, these are actually explained in the dvd extras, explanations which we found satisfied our passion for accuracy!
The acting is excellent. The main adult roles are played by Sigourney Weaver and Jon Voight - as good as you would expect. Eartha Kitt as Madam Zeroni and Henry Winkler (aka the Fonz!) as Stanley's father provide those fun moments of 'ooh, didn't know he/she was in it!') The youngsters, all relatively unknown, certainly at the time the film was made (2003), do a fantastic job - really believable performances.
The rating is PG - as mentioned, my 10-year-old loved it, but there are one or two instances of language I would have considered unsuitable when the children were a bit younger - but then they probably wouldn't have liked the film much when younger anyway. Mostly the language is fine, but just something to be aware of. Imaginative epithets are more the order of the day - 'You sideburned neanderthal' is one of the insults my son seized on gleefully!
Overall, this is a great film for a family viewing, but I think it also stands up as a film for anyone to watch. Can be found quite cheaply now, as it has been out a few years.
Dig Dig DIg; One boy has no luck at all due to a family curse. He is in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets accused of stealing some boots from a homeless shelter. He is sentence to go to Camp Greenlake, a camp at which teenagers have to dig holes 'to build character'. The main character then runs away to find his friend and things happen to him along the way which change his life forever.
This is a great film, the acting is superb and greatly enjoyable and believable. The story-line is superb and makes the film just that little bit better than many other similar styled films.
Furthermore, this DVD has some useful extra features including different languages (with subtitles) including spanish, which i found particularly helpful in preparing for some spanish listening tests.
There is also a cast description, a sort of running commentary of the film as it is running which is interesting and shows you how the film was constructed and gives a very nice insight into the characters and the actors behind them.
overall, this is a fantastic walden media film and a really nice story which really was a pleasure to watch and very enjoyable.
Holes is a fantastic adaptation of Louis Sachar's book, Holes and is a must watch for fans of the book. In the film, Stanley Yelnates is wrongly found guilty of stealing a pair of a celebrity shoes. He gets sent to Camp Green Lake, a correctional facility where children dig holes all day, every day that the Warden hopes will lead them to the secret stuff left by a female outlaw. The film sticks close to the book and contains some great characters and suspenseful plot. It contains some great entertainment for the whole family.
The story is very complicated if you haven't read the book but this is revealed in flashbacks. You need to keep up if you want to understand what is going on. The acting is fantastic and the unknown cast of children does a great job. The adults back them up and the supporting story is told very well. It is one of the best Disney movies for awhile; it is also very funny in parts. However, it may not be suitable for young children as it is hard to understand. It is also recommended to read the book before hand to get a better understanding.
Overall, a fantastic family film for fans of the book.
Stanley Yelnats the 4th always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This time the police were involved.
a pair of trainers fall from the sky whilst stanley is walking home,however they werent just any trainers they were sweetfeet's trainers a famous baseball player who suffers from foot odour. the police happen to think he has stole them from a charity home thing and take him home to find out if he is a baseball fan. turns out he is not just a baseball fan but he is allso a sweetfeet fan. so thats where the story really starts. Stanley get sentenced to go to camp green lake where he is to dig holes the same width and height of his shovel.
he meets many people at greenlake like x-ray armpit zero zig-zag mr sir and the warden.the film goes throughflash backs of where there was actually a lake there was same the onion man and kate barlow a teacher in the local village. sam fixes loads of stuff on the school as its a bit crap and every thing is falling apart so yeah he fixes it and then they share a kiss and one of he villagers sees now back then black and white people werent allowed to have a relationship so that was a bad thing and then the whole village is out to kill sam the onion man and they eventually do. kate then turns evil and gets the nickname 'kissin kate barlow' she would shoot people apply shocking red lipstick and kiss her victim.
now going back to the actuall film stanley finds a gold tube with the initialys 'kb' on it but x-ray snags it off him and hands it in the next day and gets the whole day off. stanley makes friends with zero and gets a nickname 'caveman'.
stanley teaches zero how to read. it then goes on to another flash back
great-great-great grandfather of stanley wants to marry a beautiful but incredibly stupid girl so for a gift to get her to pick him he bought her a piglet. but so did a fat man so her father said the one who raises the most strongest heaviest pig will get to take his daughters hand in marriage. so stanleys great great grandfather goes to see a fortune teller shetells him to carry the pig up a mountain to drink some water and when its strong enough make it walk but whilst doing that he must sing a song she tells him the song and then once the pig is strong he can go and see if he won but even if he doesnt he must go back and take madam zeroni up the hill whilst singing that song or his family will be cursed for always and eternity. any way stanleys grt grt grandfather forgets to carry her up the mountainand thats how stanley becomes so unlucky. back to the main story again now. stanley now nows that zero's real name is hector ZERONI but stanley doesnt realise . anyway zero decides that he will hep stan dig his hole in turn for the reading lesson. he other lads find out zig-zag stanley and zero have a fight zero runs away a couple of days later stanley steals mr sirs car and goes looking for zero he finds zero and they live off a weird jelly food thing for a couple of days. zero passes out and stanley carries him up the mountain (the one with the pig thing) and sings the same song that his grt grt grandfather sings to the pig so stanley breaks the curse as he carried a zeroni up the mountain. so his dad finds a substance to get rid of the smell in shoes and calls it sploosh hector finds his mum and thats the end of the film.
i absoloutley loved this film it was amazing! shia labeouf is a fantastic actor (from even stevens kids programme and transformers) i recommend this film to anybody
I read Holes and felt it was an excellant book of friendship and mental strength to keep going. As soon as I heard that there was a film I just had to get it and so that Christmas I got it. I watched it straight away and loved the way it jumped straight into the action although I dont feel you could watch it if you didnt know someone who had read the book to explain it you. In some parts your laughing and others you silent and on the edge of your seat! your sure to enjoy this walt disney film.
With nothing to do one night, and nothing of any note on the TV, I switched the the sky movie channels for entertainment. Again I found little immediate interest and so settled with the other half to watch a film called 'holes'. I missed the first few minutes, so didn't realise that this was a Disney film, but it certainly has that Disney cartoon quality - in a film.
I've seen so many Disney 'films' and they always seem to disappoint compared to the rather superb feature length cartoons they produce, but they got the cocktail just right with this one.
The story goes that a young boy is wrongly accused of stealing some trainers. Good at heart and wrongly treated by a terrible injustice, he is sentenced to spend time at a 'correction institute' for youths.
The general idea of this correction cantre is that the boys have to work hard to build character. To this end, they must go into the nearby desert area and dig a hole. Each day they must dig a hole a spade width and a spade deep. Not an easy task. Finish your hole and you get to go back to the centre, don't finish and you are left out until you do.
But the real story begins when the youths start to question why they have to dig. Given the 'supervisors' are all so blatently evil, there has to be a reason, doesn't there?
Amidst all this you have the story of friendships, trust and allegance against the oppressive powers of the supervisors. All this is intermixed with a 'prison style' of living, and the inevitable leaders and in fighting among the inmates that occurs.
To make such a complex and involving storyline work, they needed good actors. The casting was certainly well performed. Although the acting of the adults is often 'hammy', the children selected in the roles perform superbly.
I always find that children have a better chance of performing well in films as a child can act out of character without being noticed by the viewer - as children are always temperamental at times and can often do weird and wonderful things. But each child acts their role superbly, and the two main actors are so good that you quickly find yourself emotionally involved in the film as well.
For those who want the actors listing, the stars include Sigourney Weaver , Jon Voight , Henry Winkler , Shia LaBeouf , Khleo Thomas , Byron Cotton. You'll have heard of Sigourney Weaver of Aliens fame, the rest may ring a bell as have been around, but generally in less well known roles. In this film they all seem to shine beyond their realms, although the step down by Sigourney was acted as such, she never really got into the role all that well.
With the acting and the storyline being so good, the music simply had to be relevant to the scenes to work. This is about what it did, nothing special, but good enough to add atmosphere the action that's unfolding at the time.
The visual effects are also fairly non-existent, but the film doesnt need them. The camp is based in the middle of nowhere and the dull settings help create the atmosphere for the life the children lead. But can the youths get along well enough to get out into society, fight the evil supervisors and manage to discover the reason behind such vigorous hole digging?
I paid £9.99 in my local woolworths for the DVD the day after watching it on sky, and think this is more than good value for money. I've seen it online and Tesco.com has the retail price at £19.99 - on offer at the moment down to £16.99. This is far to steep for me when its on Sky Movies at the moment and also available for £9.99 in the town - don't let yourself get ripped off, but do buy it!
On the DVD you get selected extra's. I didnt buy it for the extra's, I see them as somewhat pointless. Indeed, the only reason I cared to look at them was for the purpose of this review. The extras seem to hang around the child stars doing a voice over commentary of the film This seems to go on somewhat and really didnt captivate my interest, not to take anything away from the film itself though.
In another extra you get to see the actors goofing around on set during an interview. Again this didn't really captivate me and the point of the extra's was beginning to cross my mind again,.
You also get the music video for 'Dig It', the main theme music for the film. This features al the cast and did raise a minor smile as I watched it. Not something I would watch again intentionally.
Finally, you get the 'out takes' section. This did provide some humour, although was again a 'one-watch' experience.
With the Extra's taken into account, I'd say they might as well not be there as they certainly aren't worth shouting about. It's a shame as Disney could have put some kids games to do with the film on it.
The film is well worth a watch. Its emotionally involving and you can't help but find yourself watching it to the end. Throughout the film the story evolves and there's no real slow parts. Its a great film for the kids too, and the DVD has had endless use since purchase. For those not wanting to fork out for the DVD, its currently showing on Sky Movies, and is likely to come onto the Disney Channel as one of their 7pm films. A good all rounder, but if you want to buy it, read the section of my review about the price. You can buy it for £10, don't pay more as some places want as much as £19.99 for it!
This movie is based on the popular children's author Louis Sacher's intricate book. But here unlike some movies I've recently seen the author of the book has written the screenplay in collaboration with director Andre Davis.
Andrew Davis's other films include the classic 1980's movie Mannequin, the wonderful The Fugitive and well should I mention Collateral Damage? Perhaps not...
The basics of the story which don't really do it justice are the character Stanley Yelnats (played wonderfully by Shia LeBeauf) is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers. How this comes about is one of the best moments of the movie but I wont spoil it for you.
He is then sent to Camp Green Lake a juvenile correctional facility in the middle of the desert in Texas.
There he meets the overseer Mr Sir (played by one of the best actors for nasty villains Jon Voight) and the cruel Warden (played by Sigourney Weaver).
At this point I would like to say I was not overly impressed by Sigourney Weaver; however she did have her moments.
Stanley finds he along with the other boys at the camp will be forced to dig holes all day everyday. What he doesn't know is that this is all for a reason. Weaver's Warden character is after a treasure left by a long-dead female outlaw (played by Patricia Arquette) who we get to see the story of in flash back.
I wont tell you much more of the story as really it would spoil it for you.
My first opinion of this movie, before watching it was oh no do I have to watch that. The trailers I had seen where not all that impressive and did not make me want to run and watch it.
But one evening while at my sister we decided to watch a movie and this was one she had but had not seen. Not expecting much and with a magazine by my side in case I got bored we settled down to watch it.
Maybe it was my low expectations but I found myself avidly watching the movie. The characters where interesting, and the jokes made me laugh (something that doesn't happen often when watching movies these days).
Though as I said there were some characters that seemed to be a little two dimensional Sigourney Weaver for one and some of the boys Stanley makes friends with seemed to be a rehash of other boys in movies. The hard bully boy, the weakling, the fat boy...
I would love to comment on how well this is an adaptation of the book but as I have not read it I can only tell you what others have said to me.
"True to the book" "amazed at how well they captured the book" and so on...
Basically Holes is a family movie that could be watched at Christmas with the grandparents, parents, sisters and brother's, and kids. Though I must warn you some younger children may find it hard to follow as the story is a little complicated.
Holes is a scrupulously faithful adaptation of Louis Sachar's book Holes and should delight the book's fans. After being wrongly found guilty of stealing a pair of sneakers, Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) gets sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile correctional facility in the bed of a long-gone dry Texas lake. There--under the watchful eye of overseer Mr Sir (a zesty Jon Voight), sneakily mean therapist Dr Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson), and the cool and cruel Warden (Sigourney Weaver)--Stanley and dozens of other delinquents are forced to dig an endless series of holes that the warden hopes will lead her to a precious secret left behind by a long-dead female outlaw (Patricia Arquette). Sachar's book is beloved for its vivid characters and suspenseful plot; by sticking close to its source, Holes has become a dynamic, exciting and surprisingly touching movie. --Bret Fetzer