HOLES

Content -1
Quality
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: April 18, 2003

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Voight, Sigoruney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Henry Winkler, and Eartha Kitt

Genre: Adventure

Audience: Teenage boys REVIEWER: Dr. Ted
Baehr HOLES is a well-directed
movie with great production
values, some beautiful
photography, a rousing,
heartwarming ending, and a
script that needs a rewrite to
cure some significant story
problems. Based on the
acclaimed children's book,
HOLES tells the story of young
Stanley Yelnats, who "finds" a
pair of stolen sneakers
belonging to a famous athlete.
Soon, he is picked up by the
police and sentenced by the
judge to reformatory camp in
the middle of the desert.
Stanley's father is a goofy
inventor, also named Stanley,
who is trying to get the odor
out of sneakers. The
grandfather, another Stanley
Yelnats, insists that all of
their bad luck stems from a
curse. As the movie slowly
develops, the audience
discovers in a flashback that
a black fortune teller told
Stanley's great grandfather in
Latvia how to raise a prize
pig so he could marry the girl
of his dreams. Madame Zeroni,
the fortune teller, told great
grandpa to carry a piglet up a
mountain to a fresh stream
every day. The pig would grow
big and be a worthy dowry for
the most beautiful girl in the
town. She adds, solemnly, that
at the end of the process
great granddad must carry her
up the mountain so she can
drink the life giving waters,
or he will be cursed for all
eternity. Although this story
of his great grandfather is
not revealed right away, young
Stanley does think about the
curse, especially when he gets
to Camp Green Lake and finds
out that it is a dried up lake
bed supposedly in the middle
of the Texas desert. This is a
mean place where the teenagers
have to dig holes in the hot
sun to build their character.
The sheriff is Mr. Sir, played
brilliantly by Jon Voight, who
is meaner than ever because he
has just given up smoking. The
boys are naturally mean. In a
vile demonstration of
meanness, the camp counselor,
Mr. Pendanski, tells the
littlest boy that he's just
downright stupid. Furthermore,
the warden is supposed to be
the meanest of them all.
Stanley, however, with a code
of ethics and a good mind,
seems to get along with minor
beatings and intimidations.
The little boy, Zero, whose
real name is Hector Zeroni,
only talks to Stanley. Much
later, the audience discovers
that Zero stole the athlete
Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston
shoes from the orphanage, and
when the police chased him, he
threw them off the bridge near
Stanley. Slowly, the story of
Green Lake unravels too. Once
upon a time, it was a
beautiful lake owned by Mr.
Walker, whose son had his eye
on the buxom blonde
schoolteacher, Kate. Kate,
however, was enamored of Sam
the black man who sold onions
as a cure-all, and spent some
time fixing Kate's
schoolhouse. When young Mr.
Walker catches Kate kissing
Sam, he gets a mob to burn the
schoolhouse. Eventually, the
vigilantes track down and
shoot Sam. The rain stops when
Sam is shot and the lake dries
up. Kate shoots the sheriff
and kisses him. Thus, she
becomes the bandit, "Kissing
Kate." Young Mr. Walker
searches for Kate's loot from
all her robberies. The warden,
played by Sigourney Weaver, is
Walker's daughter. Camp Green
Lake is her way of digging up
the lake to find the treasure.
Although the dialogue
dismisses the curse on
Stanley's family, it isn't
until Stanley carries Zero up
to the top of the mountain
(called "God's thumb") to the
stream of life-giving water
that the curse is broken and
the story turns to the good.
The last third of this movie
is rewarding, endearing,
uplifting, and entertaining.
The first third has so much
trouble introducing the
various threads of the story
that the children sitting
around me said that they were
confused. Those who are not
confused may be bored except
for the fine acting, staging
and directing. Jon Voight
alone is worth the price of
admission. Clearly, there are
a lot of Christian messages
here, from the stream of
life-giving water, to carrying
your brother's burdens, to
sacrificing your life for
others, and many positive
allegorical touches. However,
there are also some plot
elements that seem to belie
the refutation of the fortune
teller's curse. After all, as
soon as little Zero is carried
up the hill, Stanley's
father's fortune begins to
change. This nomimalistic
event could be treated in a
media-wise manner with
children, but for the fact at
the very end of the movie,
after the credits, little
Zeroni pronounces a curse on
the audience. This is done in
jest, but for those who
believe in the biblical
mandate against such
invectives, it is not
appropriate, and it will
alienate many people who are
the very audience for the
movie. Thus, a little editing
could improve the movie
tremendously. The filmmakers
are dedicated to redeeming the
media. They should be
commended for their efforts.
Please address your comments
to: Michael Eisner,
Chairman/CEO Buena Vista
Distribution Co. (Walt Disney
Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood,
Miramax, & Touchstone
Pictures) Dick Cook,
Chairman Walt Disney
Pictures 500 South Buena Vista
Street Burbank, CA
91521 Phone: (818)
560-1000 Website:
www.disney.com

Rating: PG

Runtime: 118 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(C, O, PC, B, Ab, LL, VV, S, M) Light redemptive allegory with some occult elements that are lightly rebuked such as fortune teller who pronounces a curse and ghosts who could be simple visions, and some politically correct elements, as well as moral and immoral elements; 9 obscenities and 2 "Oh My G-d" profanities; violence includes man hit with shovel, man scratched with rattlesnake venom, woman bit by deadly lizard, man shot to death in boat, boy hallucinates rattler bite, man shoots deadly lizards, man knocked unconscious by shovel, vigilantes burn schoolhouse, outlaw shoots men and kisses them, outlaw shoots sheriff pointblank, boys fight, and boys almost die of thirst in the desert; light sexual innuendo and kissing; many shots of upper male nudity and woman buttons blouse; no alcohol; no smoking; and, theft, lying, intimidation, and bullying.

GENRE: Adventure

C

O

PC

B

Ab

LL

VV

S

M

Summary:

HOLES tells the story of young Stanley Yelnats, who is told that his family is under a curse when he is sent to a reformatory camp in the desert for a crime he didn't commit. HOLES is a well-directed movie with an entertaining, heartwarming, redemptive ending, but it has some script problems and some occult content.

Review:

HOLES is a well-directed movie with great production values, some beautiful photography, a rousing, heartwarming ending, and a script that needs a rewrite to cure some significant story problems.

Based on the acclaimed children's book, HOLES tells the story of young Stanley Yelnats, who "finds" a pair of stolen sneakers belonging to a famous athlete. Soon, he is picked up by the police and sentenced by the judge to reformatory camp in the middle of the desert.

Stanley's father is a goofy inventor, also named Stanley, who is trying to get the odor out of sneakers. The grandfather, another Stanley Yelnats, insists that all of their bad luck stems from a curse.

As the movie slowly develops, the audience discovers in a flashback that a black fortune teller told Stanley's great grandfather in Latvia how to raise a prize pig so he could marry the girl of his dreams. Madame Zeroni, the fortune teller, told great grandpa to carry a piglet up a mountain to a fresh stream every day. The pig would grow big and be a worthy dowry for the most beautiful girl in the town. She adds, solemnly, that at the end of the process great granddad must carry her up the mountain so she can drink the life giving waters, or he will be cursed for all eternity.

Although this story of his great grandfather is not revealed right away, young Stanley does think about the curse, especially when he gets to Camp Green Lake and finds out that it is a dried up lake bed supposedly in the middle of the Texas desert. This is a mean place where the teenagers have to dig holes in the hot sun to build their character. The sheriff is Mr. Sir, played brilliantly by Jon Voight, who is meaner than ever because he has just given up smoking. The boys are naturally mean. In a vile demonstration of meanness, the camp counselor, Mr. Pendanski, tells the littlest boy that he's just downright stupid. Furthermore, the warden is supposed to be the meanest of them all.

Stanley, however, with a code of ethics and a good mind, seems to get along with minor beatings and intimidations. The little boy, Zero, whose real name is Hector Zeroni, only talks to Stanley. Much later, the audience discovers that Zero stole the athlete Clyde "Sweet Feet" Livingston shoes from the orphanage, and when the police chased him, he threw them off the bridge near Stanley.

Slowly, the story of Green Lake unravels too. Once upon a time, it was a beautiful lake owned by Mr. Walker, whose son had his eye on the buxom blonde schoolteacher, Kate. Kate, however, was enamored of Sam the black man who sold onions as a cure-all, and spent some time fixing Kate's schoolhouse. When young Mr. Walker catches Kate kissing Sam, he gets a mob to burn the schoolhouse. Eventually, the vigilantes track down and shoot Sam. The rain stops when Sam is shot and the lake dries up.

Kate shoots the sheriff and kisses him. Thus, she becomes the bandit, "Kissing Kate."

Young Mr. Walker searches for Kate's loot from all her robberies. The warden, played by Sigourney Weaver, is Walker's daughter. Camp Green Lake is her way of digging up the lake to find the treasure.

Although the dialogue dismisses the curse on Stanley's family, it isn't until Stanley carries Zero up to the top of the mountain (called "God's thumb") to the stream of life-giving water that the curse is broken and the story turns to the good.

The last third of this movie is rewarding, endearing, uplifting, and entertaining. The first third has so much trouble introducing the various threads of the story that the children sitting around me said that they were confused.

Those who are not confused may be bored except for the fine acting, staging and directing. Jon Voight alone is worth the price of admission.

Clearly, there are a lot of Christian messages here, from the stream of life-giving water, to carrying your brother's burdens, to sacrificing your life for others, and many positive allegorical touches.

However, there are also some plot elements that seem to belie the refutation of the fortune teller's curse. After all, as soon as little Zero is carried up the hill, Stanley's father's fortune begins to change. This nomimalistic event could be treated in a media-wise manner with children, but for the fact at the very end of the movie, after the credits, little Zeroni pronounces a curse on the audience. This is done in jest, but for those who believe in the biblical mandate against such invectives, it is not appropriate, and it will alienate many people who are the very audience for the movie. Thus, a little editing could improve the movie tremendously.

The filmmakers are dedicated to redeeming the media. They should be commended for their efforts.

Please address your comments to:

Michael Eisner, Chairman/CEO

Buena Vista Distribution Co.

(Walt Disney Pictures, Caravan, Hollywood, Miramax, & Touchstone Pictures)

Dick Cook, Chairman

Walt Disney Pictures

500 South Buena Vista Street

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone: (818) 560-1000

Website: www.disney.com

In Brief: