Holes (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/09/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Hole-ly original, hugely enjoyable film, based on Louis Sachar’s best-selling children’s novel – coupling a great script with some superb performances, this could be one of the surprise hits of the year.

Holes is adapted for the screen by Louis Sachar, from his own best-selling children’s novel. To give you some idea of just HOW best-selling it is, in a recent Read magazine poll of the most popular children’s books, it came first, beating even Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Directed by Andrew ‘The Fugitive’ Davis, the film was a surprise box office hit in the States earlier this year and if there’s any justice, it should repeat that success here too.

Ancient Family Curse

Newcomer Shia LeBeouf (also briefly seen in Charlie’s Angels 2 and Dumb and Dumberer) stars as Stanley Yelnats, a sixteen year old boy plagued by bad luck, thanks to an ancient family curse. Wrongly accused of stealing a pair of trainers, Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake, a young offenders institution in the desert where he and his fellow inmates are forced to dig a hole every day “to build character”.

The camp is run by The Warden (Sigourney Weaver) and the boys are overseen by her right-hand men, Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and “Dr.” Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson). However, Stanley soon begins to wonder exactly why The Warden is so interested in anything unusual they might find in their holes and he uncovers yet another ancient curse, related to desert outlaw Kissin’ Kate Barlow (Patricia Arquette)…

Terrific Fun

The script is terrific fun, cleverly intersecting three different stories and keeping you guessing throughout. It’s also very funny in places and Davis (not normally a director one associates with quirky off-beat comedy adventure tales) keeps tight control of both the pace and the tone of the film.

Shia LeBeouf is superb as Stanley – Davis has commented that he wanted an actor who could combine “the best qualities of Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks and Gene Wilder” and LeBeouf fits the bill perfectly. Weaver, Voight and Blake Nelson are equally good, as always, but there’s also great support from Henry Winkler (as Stanley Yelnats III), Eartha Kitt (as the mysterious Madame Zeroni), Patricia Arquette, Dulé Hill (as Sam) and Khleo Thomas as fellow inmate Zero.

In short, Holes is a whole lot of fun – clever, exciting, uplifting and frequently very funny, it’s one of the best children’s films for a long time, though it’s just as much fun for adults. Highly recommended.

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Holes (PG)
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 00:22

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