I read the book on the advice of a friend who knew I was interested in children's books. I was blown away. Then I heard Disney was making a movie -- I was apprehensive about the story getting Hollywoodized, but when I saw the finished product, I realized my fears were unfounded.
It didn't hurt at all that they got Louis Sachar, the author of the novel, to write the screenplay, but the casting of this movie was wonderful as well, with the kids turning in strong performances all around and the adults clearly relishing their roles, particularly the scene-chewing Jon Voight.
This is a pretty good DVD as well, especially by Disney standards, with a comentary and some nice behind-the-scenes features. Best of all, Disney actually gave movie fans a widescreen version for once -- thank heavens! I can actually watch the movie the way it was meant to be seen in my own home! All in all, one of the most satisfying products from the House of Mouse in many a year.
The young cast bring to life the beloved characters at Camp Green Lake, where convicted juvenile delinquents are sent to toil in broiling Texas sun. It was great to see X-Ray, Zero, Armpit and of course Caveman brought to life. The adult parts are played by Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Tim Blake Nelson, and they look like they're having a WORLD of fun playing the malicious staff at Camp Green Lake. The story is not insulting to kids, and adults can watch it and be entertained the entire length of the movie. Vignettes back at Caveman's home where Stanley Yelnats the second and third live under the curse incurred from the first Stanley Yelnats, and trips back in time where that first Stanley was cursed by European VooDoo Woman Eartha Kitt as well as the back-story around Kissin' Kate and her treasure all add to the viewing pleasure.
The DVD comes with just the right amount of supplemental features, interviews and commentaries.
Not many "children's movies" are as appropriate for all ages. Highly recommended.
The boys at Camp Green Lake all give awesome performances as well. Stanley Yelnats aka "Cave Man" does a wonderful job of showing us the pain and joy of a young man that just can't seem to get a break. "Zero" shows us that no matter how berated you are by peers and adults there is always hope and friendship to be found. Squid, Armpit, ZigZag, Magnet, and X-Ray are great in their support roles.
The background story behind why the warden wants holes dug all over the desert is one of the best I have seen. In fact it is pretty much a movie on it's own. It is like getting two movies for the price of one. I have to say I sure hope to see more Disney movies like this and "Pirates of the Caribbean". They are both excellent films and have me anxious to see what is next. The DVD picture and sound quality are great and it includes commentary, documentary, gag reel, deleted scenes, music video, and more.