DVD Review
Holes
Holes poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published September 24, 2003
US Release: April 18, 2003

Directed by: Andrew Davis
Starring: Shia LaBeouf , Sigourney Weaver , Jon Voight , Patricia Arquette

PG
Running Time: 111 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $67,326,000
C
100 of 132
We are merely watching thin character roles expected to win over very young audience members given the silliness at stake
Having never read the novel, I do not know how the movie holds up as an adaptation.

But as a fresh viewer to this fable, Holes is too broad and silly in its humor and not believable enough in its story to create the impression it so desires.
The film was advertised as a slapstick-like goofy comedy with recognizable co-stars, along with promising a magical premise worth the audience?s imagination. Watching Holes, it didn?t take long to realize that it would be a chore to sit through, for the film goes along with skewed-to-children antics and easy and desperate ploys for chuckles, with the story itself never quite certain of what it wants to be.

Shia LaBeouf plays Stanley Yelnats, a wrongfully accused young teen who is sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention desert land where he and other kids his age must dug hole after hole on a daily basis to keep their warden, Marion Sirvio (John Voight), satisfied. Along the way, the young group ponders the secret that might be staring right at them?a history that has something that to do with the holes their digging.

Besides from being too long, Holes never quite understands what it?s trying to go for, genre wise. The film starts off as a goofy comedy aimed at young kids and continues that trend for some distance, but then breaks away into dark drama, and also attempts to create a fantasy-like tone. The tone mixtures are off balance, which could?ve been avoided in the editing room or perhaps a different screenplay.

Having seen this movie with minimal knowledge surrounding the whereabouts of the premise, I walked in blind from any comparison-drawing circumstances. As it is, Holes never grabs the audience and manipulates them to believe in the characters, rooting for them in the long run. The actors are simply taking on vague roles who are only present to make silly remarks and actions, with nothing ever really developed.

Having seen Shia LaBeouf in The Battle of Shaker Heights (B-) this year, there is no hiding his gift at a comedic delivery, and that gift cannot be seen here. Other than the vague knowledge that he?s been wrongfully accused and sentenced to time at this detention camp, the audience never gets to know him well enough for compassion to be in gear later down the road. As is with the rest of the cast, we are merely watching thin character roles expected to win over very young audience members given the silliness at stake.

Coincidentally, Shaker Heights also battled a genre crisis in post-production, with the studio forcing upon more of a comedic approach in its tone after the original cut was one of majority drama. Perhaps Holes would?ve worked better as a mix of fantasy and drama, but in that case scenario the filmmakers may not have had the ingredients at hand to keep the youngsters in the audience occupied. But perhaps Holes works just fine as a novel, and for right now, I?m assuming it does.

DVD Features:
- Cast Commentary with Shia LaBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Jake S. Smith, and 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
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scenes

Audio Features:
- (English) Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
- THX Certified
- French and Spanish Language Tracks
- Spanish Subtitles
Lee's Grade: C
Ranked #100 of 132 between Poolhall Junkies (#99) and Piglet's Big Movie (#101) for 2003 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2697 graded movies
A0.4%
B30.7%
C61.1%
D7.7%
F0.0%
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