I remember it like it was yesterday. When Holes came to the theater in 2003, I was only fifteen years old at the time, but this movie still remains the most-viewed film that I’ve seen in the theater (five times), and even more times on DVD/Blu-Ray. It’s currently available on HBO, so I decided to watch it again, given the fact that I’ve strangely never actually reviewed the thing. Before 2003, I read the book a few times and had a good time with it, and the one thing I can tell you about the movie is that it does a great job translating from novel to big screen, but that doesn’t always work when it comes to containing an unconvoluted structure – which is one of the main issues the film actually deals with. What’s it about?
The film centers on Stanley Yelnats IV, who was caught red-handed with a pair of stolen shoes that he ultimately didn’t steal. That being said, he was taken into custody and instead of choosing jail time, he opted for the lesser of two evils, or so he thought, Camp Green Lake for troubled youth. The “camp” in question takes place in the desert, where all of these troubled youths are forced to dig holes in the dry lakebed. Five-foot-deep, five feet in diameter – and it doesn’t take long for everyone to realize that they aren’t digging holes to build character, the evil camp counselors are actually looking for something and are using the kids as slave labor.
This is probably Shia LaBeouf’s last innocent role in film before he moved on to bigger/blockbuster projects and ultimately turned into a strange artsy fartsy guy that nobody can understand, and while this doesn’t really match up to some of his later performances, it was probably his most-serious role to date, which was nice to see at the time. That being said, you can’t really call any of the acting in this film fabulous, because it’s not. It’s a family film with some serious tones, but not enough to warrant awards or anything, but you are going to remember the characters that everybody plays, regardless. These are very colorful and diverse, almost caricatured characters, which works really well for any good family film, which I would certainly put this under, and everyone did a great job finding their zones in these characters, I wouldn’t want anyone else playing those roles, because they are perfect and they all work so well together that it’s hard to deny them points there.
As far as the writing goes, I think there’s a lot of fantastic one-liners in the movie that you can’t easily forget. I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I knew so many of the lines, which is really great, but here’s where things get iffy. The use of flashbacks, as much as it ultimately added to the film…felt really convoluted, as if it was taking forever to tell a rather basic story. It was as if the flashbacks all had to do with a mystery, and I guess they did, but their method upon going that route wasn’t very well done and ultimately took away from the main story at hand.
Another thing, there are so many genres to this movie, I don’t really know where to start. With comedy, it had a good amount of laughs here and there, but it doesn’t feel like a comedy, and the same can basically be said about drama, which basically means they didn’t want to be too serious for the younger audiences, which is understandable, but none of the genres it’s ultimately under felt exactly right. It may be fun to watch and everything, especially for a younger crowd, but when you take a deeper look at the movie on a technical level, you’ll really begin to notice faults.
So yes, it is an entertaining flick that I have no problems watching, but that has a lot to do with personal bias from loving the book. From film standards, it had some faulty areas that could’ve used a bit of help.
TOTAL SCORE: 75/100
Full Stats Below
|NARRATIVE ARC SCORE||:||9|
|Sucks You In||:||1|
|Specialty 1:||:||Genres – Comedy|
|Specialty 1 Rating||:||5|
|Specialty 2:||:||Genres – Mystery|
|Specialty 2 Rating||:||5|
|Specialty 3:||:||Concept – Title Specific|
|Specialty 3 Rating||:||10|
|Specialty 4:||:||Genres – Drama|
|Specialty 4 Rating||:||5|