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Rating: PG

Sigourney Weaver as The Warden Walker
Jon Voight as Mr. Sir/Marion Sirvio
Patricia Arquette as Katherine ‘Kissin’ Kate’ Barlow
Shia LaBeouf as Stanley Yelnats IV/Caveman
Tim Blake Nelson as Mr. Pendanski
Khleo Thomas as Hector Zero
Jake M. Smith as Squid
Byron Cotton as Armpit
Brenden Jefferson as X-Ray
Miguel Castro as Magnet
Siobhan Fallon as Mrs. Yelnats
Max Kasch as Zig-Zag
Henry Winkler as Stanley Yelnats III
Nathan Davis as Stanley Yelnats II
Scott Plank as Charles ‘Trout’ Walker
Eartha Kitt as Madame Zeroni
Dule Hill as Sam the Onion Man

Special Features:

Gag Reel

Six Deleted Scenes

Cast Commentary with Shia La Beouf, Khleo Thomas, Jake M. Smith, Max Kasch

“Dig It” Music Video performed by the cast

“On The Set With Louis Sachar”

“The Making of Holes” Featurette

Filmmakers’ Commentary with director Andrew Davis and author/screenwriter Louis Sachar

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
French And Spanish Language Tracks
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 117 Minutes

This movie is based on the award winning children’s book by Louis Sachar.

Stanley Yelnats IV’s family is cursed. Ever since his ancestor crossed a gypsy fortuneteller many years ago, the Yelnats men have had a constant stream of bad luck. Stanley IV’s luck is no better. When a pair of shoes falls out of the sky, Stanley picks them up to take home. However, when the police catch him with the shoes, he discovers that they are a rare piece of sports memorabilia that had been stolen. Stanley is wrongly convicted of theft and sent to a juvenile work camp for 18 months.

When Stanley arrives at the camp, he discovers that they have a unique way of building character in their boys. They make them dig a hole 5 ft in diameter and 5 ft deep each day. Supervised by Mr. Sir and Mr. Pendanski, the boys unquestioningly dig the holes for the Warden Walker. It’s brutal work. Stanley must face rattlesnakes, scorpions, his fellow diggers, and deadly spotted yellow lizards. His main friend ends up being the quiet young boy nicknamed Zero.

Over time Stanley suspects that they are digging for buried treasure. However, the story behind it spans over 100 years and involves the ancestors of everyone involved. Destiny brings all the players together to undo the curse that has haunted the Yelnats family.

“Holes” is rated PG for violence, mild language and some thematic elements.

The Movie:
“Holes” is one of those rare children’s movies that is entertaining for both kids and adults. The plot is not dumbed down at all and the story is engaging for all who watch it. The film has several distinct storylines that, at the beginning, seem totally unrelated, yet they converge at the end to create a nice, tidy, feel-good ending. Holes also manages to mix together a bit of humor, darkness, mystery, and adventure into a satisfying package. In that sense it has a feel similar to Harry Potter. It’s hard to even describe the film. It features a treasure hunt, a mystery, an interracial romance, a western, and more. I never read the children’s book, but the fact that the author also wrote the screenplay makes me think it is pretty faithful.

The cast is first rate. Relative unknown Shia LaBeouf carries the movie as Stanley Yelnats IV/Caveman. He’s likable, imperfect, and sympathetic as our beleaguered hero. If he didn’t do a good job, this movie would have fallen flat. Fortunately he delivers a fine performance. Khleo Thomas is also excellent as Zero, Stanley’s sidekick. He manages to look intense, dark, and likable all at the same time.

But what really makes the film fun is the stellar supporting cast. Jon Voight is way over the top as Mr. Sir. A redneck bully, he is really amusing as the kid’s tormenter. He steals practically every scene he’s in and makes a fun villain for the movie. Tim Blake Nelson is also really funny as Mr. Pendanski, the counselor for the boys at the camp. He wavers between being a mother hen to the boys and being a psychological bully, particularly towards Zero. When both of these guys get their just desserts, it’s truly satisfying. Sigourney Weaver is excellent as The Warden Walker and she really seems to have fun with the role. Patricia Arquette stars in one of the side stories that take place in the old west. Her character’s transformation is one of the most dramatic in the film and one of the best performances. Also look for cameos from Henry Winkler (Fonzie), Eartha Kitt (Catwoman), Rick Fox (NBA star), Eric Pierpont (Alien Nation), Siobhan Fallon (Saturday Night Live), and others.

The Extras:
The Holes DVD has your standard DVD extras included on it:

Gag Reel – This is a very brief montage of clips of the cast and crew clowning around on the set. It shows the kids making jokes, playing around, and other stuff. There are some behind the scenes shots of some of the key moments from the film, but this is about it. It lasts maybe 2 or 3 minutes.

Six Deleted Scenes – These deleted scenes don’t add much to the story, but they do change the film’s tone a little. One scene shows Mr. Sir hitting Stanley in the head in front of a cop. Another scene shows the Warden jabbing a boy in the chest with a pitchfork. It definitely makes the mood a bit darker and was probably best left on the cutting room floor. Another scene shows Stanley being picked on by a boy at school, then later fantasizing about getting revenge. They’re interesting extras for the DVD, but they don’t add anything to the plot.

Cast Commentary with Shia La Beouf, Khleo Thomas, Jake M. Smith, Max Kasch – This commentary is essentially four teenage boys clowning around while watching the movie. They get off track, joke, sing, and generally be teenage boys. Your enjoyment in listening to this commentary will depend heavily on how much you enjoy hanging around listening to teenage boys. It didn’t do anything for me and I quickly got annoyed with it.

“Dig It” Music Video performed by the cast – I thought this was going to be a full fledged music video featuring the music, but it wasn’t. It was a very brief montage of clips showing scenes from the film and behind the scenes footage of the boys singing the song. Unfortunately, this video doesn’t even feature the whole song. Overall, it’s a disappointment.

“On The Set With Louis Sachar” – This is an interview on set with the author of the original novel. He talks about the writing process, how he got ideas for the story, how he was brought onto the film, and what he thought of the movie. The cast and crew chime in to talk about the author and the novel and sing the praises of both. It’s interesting if you liked the movie or are a fan of the book. It adds more behind the scenes glimpses in addition to the Making Of video.

“The Making of Holes” Featurette – This is about a 15 minute video on the making of the movie. It has your standard behind the scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and more. The boys are cornered in one segment for interviews. They clown around and generally act like teens. The behind the scenes clips are interesting and they give you a unique look at the movie. Overall it’s a good featurette on the making of the movie.

Filmmakers’ Commentary with director Andrew Davis and author/screenwriter Louis Sachar – Of the two commentaries, this was the most interesting one for me. Davis and Sachar point out trivia about the plot, details about cameos, hidden effects you may have never spotted, and more. It’s an interesting and informative commentary worth listening to. (On a side note, Davis also directed a very different film from Holes – The Fugutive.)

The Bottom Line:
Holes is a great film for both adults and children. It’s well worth checking out. The DVD extras could have been better, but they get the job done.