Holes could easily have been another lame Disney Channel movie, but the filmmakers put surprising effort into adapting Louis Sachar’s award-winning novel into a mature and entertaining family film. Before Holes, Shia LaBeouf was only known as Louis Stevens on Disney Channel’s Even Stevens, for which he won an Emmy, but this film cemented him as an up-and-coming actor with real potential. Though The Greatest Game Ever Played is his best single performance, his quiet, agreeable role as Stanley Yelnats IV is the pillar upon which all the various plotlines of Holes are moored.
With disparate elements all converging with ingenious precision, Holes is storytelling at once intricate and coherent, like a kid-friendly Shawshank Redemption. Flashbacks range from Latvian curses to forbidden Old West love, and as long as viewers are paying attention, it never gets confusing. Aside from a few hasty transitions, this is how flashbacks should be done. So much is covered in just under two hours: poisonous lizards, kissing outlaws, hog growth, Eartha Kitt laughing, smelly shoes, peaches and onions, palindromic monikers, obsessed searches, punkish camaraderie, desert loneliness, false accusations, fate, love, destiny! Not many films touch on so many subjects and boast a similarly diverse and striking soundtrack.
While most of the young actors haven’t gone far in the movie biz, several notable thespians add star power, including Henry Winkler, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, a surly and hilarious Jon Voight as Mr. Sir, and an imposing Sigourney Weaver in the unusually shady role of Warden Walker. Her abrasive catchphrase is a small detail onto which my VC latched as a memorable character trait. As capable as the cast is, the true star is the story, which ends with a rewarding and smile-worthy conclusion that wraps up its sundry plot threads beautifully. Though not all of Shia LaBeouf’s film choices have been well-received, his first in Holes remains a high-point among book adaptations and family-friendly dramas.
Best line: (Sam, a kindly onion grower, as he woos a schoolteacher with his handiness) “I can fix that.”
VC’s best line: (the Warden, indignantly and repeatedly) “Excuse me?”Rank: 54 out of 60
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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