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Holes
DVD disk
10.05.2004 By: Bob Menard
Holes order
Director:
Andrew Davis

Actors:
Shia LaBeouf
Sigourney Weaver
Jon Voight

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Stanley Yelnats, a naïve, unsuspecting, down-on-his-luck teen, is wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit and is sentenced to 18 months in a brutal desert correction facility for young offenders, Camp Green Lake, where he and his fellow ‘juvies’ are forced to dig holes, day in and day out, in order to “build character”. But there is much more to it…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
It’s been a long time since a kid-friendly film has invoked in me that child-like giddy rush I got (and still get) while watching films like THE GOONIES, THE NEVERENDING STORY, STAND BY ME, THE PRINCESS BRIDE and more recently, THE SANDLOT, but HOLES had that wonderfully euphoric feeling bubbling through my system like a 70-pound kid on a three day Jolt and Snickers binge from the very start. Borrowing elements and themes that made the movies mentioned above so great, this film literally has something for everyone, with plenty of action, adventure, comedy, drama alongside themes of friendship, understanding, acceptance and the battle between good and greed (not necessarily evil).

Despite perhaps being a little long for the kiddies (just shy of 2 hours), the story moves along at a crisp enough pace to keep most butts firmly plopped in their seats by interjecting various back-stories that are told throughout and that, despite ‘getting’ how each individual flashback affected the central story, still kind of snuck up on me, and made for a great revelation towards the end. Great storytelling. The screenplay was adapted collaboratively between director Andrew Davis and writer Louis Sachar, the author of the extremely popular original book, (who won both The National Book Award and The Newbury Medal in 1999 for excellence in children’s literature) and judging by the response from fans of the book (both young and old), a truer translation from text to film would be hard to find. Now that’s a rarity.

The acting is excellent throughout, with the film’s real star (despite being billed 4th), Shia LaBeouf, quickly proving to us why he is one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood right now. This kid has talent to spare. The rest of the members of “D Tent” (Stanley’s bunkhouse in the film) all find their places quickly as well, with pint-sized outcast Zero (Khleo Thomas) standing out from the very beginning. The roles of The Warden and her bumbling cronies couldn’t have been cast any better with Sigourney Weaver playing the sweet & sour leader, John Voight playing even more over the top than he did in ANACONDA as her right-hand man, Mr. Sir, and the always commendable Tim Blake Nelson playing the camp’s supposed psychiatrist and focal point of much ribbing, Mr. Pendansk.
THE EXTRAS
Disney doesn’t pull any punches here and gives us a good spread of extras to dig through including:

The Boys of D Tent (featurette): This serves as the “making of” featurette for the film and gives us some insight into casting (including some auditions), characters, locations, tidbits about the lizards used in the film and the now-typical “it was great to work with…” ass kissing segment, or as they’ve called it here, “shout-out’s”.

Digging the first Hole (featurette): This segment gives us a closer look at the author and screenwriter of Holes, Louis Sachar, who gives us some background on the book and what it was like adapting his own work for the screen.

Gag Reel: Aren’t gag reels supposed to have outtakes and funny clips? This one resembled more of a highlight reel than a blooper strip and was mysteriously devoid of anything funny at all. Unless you count Max Kasch giving a “shout out” to his “one true love”, as funny. I bet he already regrets that one…

2 Commentaries: We also get two full-length commentary tracks; the first is a fun and energetic one featuring 4 of D Tent’s finest, Shia LeBeouf, Khleo Thomas, Jake M. Smith, and Max Kasch and the other is a great inside look at all aspects of the film from director Andrew Davis and writer Louis Sachar.

Deleted Scenes: There are 6 fully developed deleted scenes in total, all of which were good enough to have been left in the final cut if it wasn’t for an already lengthy timeline, including one hilarious cut involving the vertically challenged Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LaBeouf.

Music Video: A short video for the song “Dig It”, by The D Tent Boys (the actors actually perform it…not bad!) featuring clips from the film and behind-the-scenes footage from the recording session.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you're like me, and can set aside your age and suspend your disbelief long enough to still get caught up in the fun and wonderment of films like THE GOONIES, then HOLES will fit nicely alongside it in your collection. But even if you typically weren’t one for kid flicks, I would still at least recommend a rental. Like I said at the start of this review, there is something here for everyone.
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