on October 2, 2003
"Holes" surprised the heck out of me.
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.
on July 16, 2004
The wildly popular novel for youngsters "Holes" gets turned into a movie that is completely in keeping with the spirit of the book.
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.
on June 30, 2004
This is one of the best adventure/drama/comedys that Disney has ever put out. Everything just seems to come together. Jon Voight as Mr. Sir and Sigourney Weaver as the Warden of Camp Green Lake add a real touch of Comedy with their over the top performances. Voight's expressions and looney hunting of deadly Yellow Lizards will have you rolling on the floor. Weaver will have you shaking your head wondering how can a woman be so evil.
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.
on May 10, 2004
Unlike others here, I was never exposed to the book, so this movie was a mystery to me. I'd heard the generally positive reviews and read what passed for plot synopsis, but all I came away with was, "What?!?" This is a difficult movie to synopsize without giving away too much of the intricately woven plot. If this is what young teen-agers are reading, there may be hope for us yet.
This is a movie that requires constant attention. The plot is revealed in fits and starts with modern day action intercut with flashbacks and clues in plain view at the periphery of the scenes. The story is about the bad luck Yelnats clan, all of which leads to the youngest family scion, Stanley (his first and last name together are a palindrome). There are actually five interrelated subplots:
1) The origin of the family curse.
2) The history of the site of the juvenile detention camp where the protagonist finds himself. This takes place in the old west.
3) A story of Stanley's great-grandfather, who made a fortune and then lost it in events which touch on plot #2.
4) The story of the camp warden and her family. This also relates to plot #2.
5) The modern day plight of Stanley and his family.
Sound complicated? It is, but it all entwines in some exceptional storytelling. The ending wraps up all five stories in an entirely satisfying way.
So what is this and who would like it? Well, it's not a children's movie in any conventional sense. It requires attention and doesn't have a lot of "action". It's not riveting, but it is masterful storytelling. The film makers don't milk any scenes beyond their logical conclusion, so the intercutting between modern events and flashbacks could be disorienting to some viewers. The performances are all first rate. Jon Voigt is over the top as the dim-witted head guard, and Sigourney Weaver has her most deliciously evil role since "Snow White: A Tale of Terror". The juvenile roles are all excellent, especially the critical roles of Shia LaBeouf as Stanley and Khleo Thomas as "Zero". Eartha Kitt turns in a brief but effective performance as the old Latvian Gypsy who started the family curse. Patricia Arquette and Dulé Hill are touching in the critical roles as tragically star-crossed interracial lovers in the old west.
If you let it, this is a highly involving film and time well spent. I was only going to give this 4 stars because it's not particularly showy, but wound up giving it 5 since it delivers everything it intends. The story is intricate, but still not particularly grand. But that's OK - this is a master work and deserves an audience.
on March 6, 2004
When Stanley Yelnats IV (played by Shia LaBeouf of "Even Stevens") is struck in the head by a pair of dropped shoes, and is subsequently tried for stealing them, his family is not surprised. The family has been cursed by bad luck, since Stanley's great grandfather (Stanley Yelnats I) failed to fulfill his end of an agreement with a gypsy (Eartha Kitt!). And so, Stanley finds himself whisked off to a juvenile corrections camp, where the young inmates spend their days digging holes - 5' diameter, 5' deep holes.
There's something awfully strange going on here. The warden (Sigourney Weaver) and her goons are looking for something, something that they dare not reveal. But, what is it? Ah, destiny is at work here and curses upon curses, and only one Stanley Yelnats can set things right! [Color, released in 2003, with a running time of 1 hour, 57 minutes.]
I must admit that when my kids wanted to see this movie in the theatre, I was more than happy to send them off with a cousin, as the movie did not look interesting to me. Well, I sure am kicking myself now! This is a great movie!
I loved the story of this movie, which seemed complicated at first, involving as it does so many flashbacks, but quickly sorted itself into a pattern which brought the story along quite nicely. Also, the anti-racism subplot was very well designed. I enjoyed the acting ability demonstrated in the movie (and now think that Shia LaBeouf has quite a future ahead of him!). And, I enjoyed the scenery. Overall, I must say that this is one fine movie, mainly designed for youngsters, but a great movie for adults, too.
on January 25, 2004
I would have given it fewer stars if that was possible!
Today, I finished reading the book Holes for my daughter. If you want a good story that is well written and clever on top of being not very cliché, I highly recommend the BOOK. However, no matter the temptation, DO NOT BUY OR RENT THE MOVIE VERSION! The movie is terribly paced and only acted well on the part of three of the characters. John Voight, who plays a character called Mr. Sir, nearly saved several scenes. But, following the latest trends, Disney tried to blackify the story. The movie is crammed with poorly edited r&b and hip-hop music that is too loud and terribly out of place most of the time. In addition, the dialogue is something out of a nightmare of George Bush doing an impersonation of Vanilla Ice trying to be as black as one of the Beastie Boys. The story is changed enough that it loses just about all of its magic and wit. Also, it doesn't leave anything at all to your imagination.
The book, however, is fantastic. My daughter and I loved it thoroughly. It is imaginative, witty and well-paced. There is a good bit of clever humor. There is also sugar-free love, and well-measured danger. There are two violent scenes, but nothing that one can't handle, or explain in the context of the story. The Disney version, on the other hand, stuffs these scenes in to try to wake up those who fell asleep and do to the changes in pace, the scenes are much more gratuitous. In my opinion, there was no stereotyping in the book. But the movie was typical Disney casting which goes something like this:
Director: Let's go downtown and try to get a feel for what
the "inner city" is like. I want
this movie to feature real-life characters.
Casting director: But, isn't that dangerous?
Dircetor: Ya, you're right, maybe we'll just watch a couple of
hours of Menudo and try to
get a good grasp on the modern day lingo of today's
African American youth.
They do still prefer that term, right?
Casting Director: Yesiree, my brother!
This would have been a better movie had Tim Burton directed it...but I guess his plate was full with "Big Fish".
on January 24, 2004
This is an enjoyable movie with a distinctive Disney feel to it. It seemed a little slow in the middle but the plot was interesting and the ending heartwarming. Two family curses intertwine in the arid West Texas landscape when Stanley Yelnats is sent to Lake Greenwood for stealing a pair of shoes which he, of course, did not actually steal. This, he figures, stands to figure as all the males in his family have been cursed since his great, great grandfather failed to keep a promise to a gypsy soothsayer in the old country.
Lake Greenwood is not a lake but it used to be. When a black man was shot in cold blood over a hundred years ago over a kiss from the white schoolteacher (Disney picks some strange stuff for their children's movies, don't they) a curse falls on the area and no rain falls from that day forward. The lake dries up and the family that owns it, now represented by Sigourney Weaver as the warden of Lake Greenwood, is digging holes. Each child in the juvenile center is to dig one hole five feet deep and five feet wide every day. Only Stanley can piece together what they are looking for but first he has to take care of his own family curse.
on January 14, 2004
As HOLES begins, we see a dirty, sweat-drenched, young man emerge from a pit he's been digging in the desert. Apparently distraught over his prospects for job advancement, he bares a foot to the fangs of a passing rattlesnake. Yup, that's how I feel at the end of some workdays myself.
The hero of this quirky story is Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LeBeouf), unjustly convicted of stealing a pair of snappy looking athletic shoes. Stanley is at the leading edge of the bad luck that's bedeviled his family since an ancestor emigrated from Eastern Europe under the curse of a gypsy crone (Eartha Kitt). Yelnats is sentenced to the juvenile detention center of Camp Green Lake, a parched lake bed in the Texas desert, where the male inmates spend their days digging pits - five feet deep and five feet in diameter - in order to build character. They're under standing orders to bring anything unusual they unearth to the attention of the overseer, Mr. Sir (Jon Voight). However, "unusual" isn't defined except that, as Stanley discovers, it's not about fossils.
HOLES has so many varied elements that the viewer may wonder if it can all come together. The gypsy curse. Deadly, yellow-spotted lizards. An Old West schoolmarm turned outlaw, Kissin' Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette). Something lost and buried. An elusive antidote for smelly shoes. Preserved peaches. A coming-of-age story. Lots of holes.
But come together it does. LeBeouf is ostensibly the film's lead, but he's upstaged by Voight's Mr. Sir, the squinty-eyed boss of the labor gang, who manages to be menacing even when he's being reasonable. The Warden (Sigourney Weaver) is an even more hard-boiled case whom Mr. Sir has no desire to cross, but the former plays a less central role in the boys' daily routine, and the audience doesn't even see her until well into the movie when she finally emerges with a vengeance. Tim Blake Nelson plays Dr. Pendanski, the third member of the supervisory staff, who could've been eliminated from the cast entirely. I'm still not sure what essential purpose he served to the plot.
I suspect that HOLES plays better to the teenage crowd, but the storyline is intriguing enough for older audiences, especially as it's visually engaging and never deteriorates into cuteness. It's the perfect film to rent if you're looking for something a little different and on the verge of fantasy.
on December 4, 2003
This movie was one of the best movies I have seen in a while, and for those of you who say the book is better then the movie, Then do you know who wrote it? Louis Sachar, the author of the book (I know this because of the DVD Features)!!! Holes is very interesting, as it has something for everyone. There is lots of comedy, mystery, and even a little history! In the story the main character, Stanley Yelnats(Stanley is Yelnats spelled Backwards), is hit with a pair of shoes on his way home from school. The shoes belonged to Sweat Feet, a famous athlete, who had donated the shoes to the homeless shelter where he had grown up, and Stanley is blamed for steeling them. As punishment, he is sent to Camp Greenlake (which is neither green nor has a lake) where he has to dig 1 5ft by 5ft hole a day. At the camp he meets the D-tent boys, one of which has an interesting story to tell.
As well as an interesting story, Holes also has an awesome cast, such as Shia Beouf, Jon Voight, and many other very talented actors. Also, Holes has some really cool music, like "Just Like You", "I Will Survive", "Don't Give Up" and many others!
I highly recommend Holes to anyone who is looking for a movie that glues you to your seat, or someone who just wants family movie that also interests the parents.
So, If you are looking for a good movie, then You've found one!!!
on November 5, 2003
This is a great adaptation of the amazing book Holes by Loius Sachar. If you haven't read the book first, I suggest you do so because the book is simply amazing. I was so relived to see that the movie was almost just as good.
This is the story about a boy named Stanley Yelnats who's family has been cursed since his great-grandfather. Stanley's father (henry winkler) is an inventor who has been trying to invent the cure for foot odor for years but to no avail. Stanley gets wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and gets put in a juvenille correctional "camp" ... But this "camp" is in the middle of the dessert and run by the meanest warden (Sigourney Weaver) you could imagine. Here Stanley and the rest of the boys are made to DIG HOLES. that's right. they don't do anything but DIG HOLES in the middle of the burning hot dessert. thousands and thousands of holes. Stanley makes a friend -but mostly enemies - and he thinks that he is going to be cursed forever --- until the pieces of this complex puzzle start to come together and Stanley inadvertanly finds a way to lift the curse off his family.
Great story, fast paced, great cast - LOVE THIS MOVIE! Watch it! It's not just for kids! I'm 22 and can't get enough of it!