Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Childish, but fun
Like Odd Thomas, Holes was one of my all-time favorite books (relax, I was in the target age-range when the book came out). I loved it, so when I heard that they were making a movie, I was so excited, Holes was my favorite movie at a time – I had two versions of the book, the DVD, official movie soundtrack, and double-sided poster. When the film was in theaters, I kid you not, using my own money, I saw it at least five times in the theater. Needless to say, I was a fan. It’s been ten years since the initial release of Holes. I have grown older, and wiser with my choice for movies. What would be a perfect-scored movie is now rated a lot lower, but still maintains a decent score. Interestingly enough, I think a lot of the reason why I don’t have this rated even lower is out of bias and years of loving the story. Let’s get into it.
Stanley Yelnats IV is an average…everyday kid that gets in trouble for “stealing” a pair of shoes once worn by a very famous athlete. His punishment is to dig holes at Camp Green Lake. However, there seems to be more to digging holes than just building character – it would appear that the Warden and two guards are looking for something, and using the kids as their slave laborers. Whatever it is that the kids are being used to look for is linked to the past in some way.
This film is so predictable. When you’re younger, it really isn’t unless you read the books, but the film isn’t even trying to maintain mystery. There’s supposed to be a twist near the end, but there’s an early tell that would probably give it away to anyone who is over fifteen years old, and that’s pushing it. It’s not really the story that is good about this film, it’s the themes and the characters.
The themes are everywhere in this film…to the point where it’s almost cluttered. There’s clear themes of anti-racism, interracial relationships, slavery, child labor, and greed. As well as friendship, teamwork, coping mechanisms, and leaps of faith. This film probably does a splendid job at telling kids what is really important, even if it is subliminal. There are some really great messages strewn about the entire film. The characters are also brilliant.
Jon Voigt as Mr. Sir is probably the most colorful character he has ever played. It is funny, it is animated, and he is great at making the audience laugh. Shia LaBeouf is now seen in serious movies, be it action-packed or complete drama, but he really did get his start in Disney. This performance really showcased that he can possibly do a better performance dramatically, and it may have helped him ultimately get to where he is today. His character wasn’t true to the book…not exactly.
That’s the thing about this film – it stays pretty true to the book, but mostly with factual things. When I watched Odd Thomas, I noticed it did a splendid job at reading your mind and doing scenes exactly how you visualized them while reading the book. This one did an alright job at that, but not as perfectly. You do feel the production enough to not fully get sucked into the film. However, you do care about all of these characters, and you love them all.
Finally, once you pass the target age of the film…you stop enjoying it as much as you initially did as a kid. That’s to be expected, of course, but where other movies have things for adults to also enjoy, this one had less of that and felt a little cheesier than it should have felt. That being said, you can still appreciate all of the positive vibes the movie gives off from the multiple themes.
Check this one out if you got kids, they’ll probably get a good kick out of it!