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This plot full of 'Holes'

[Photo: Walt Disney Pictures]
Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf, left) and Zero (Khleo Thomas) are among the teens in a detention center forced to dig a hole every day in Holes.

And that's good. Louis Sachar, author of the children's novel Holes, wrote the movie's screenplay and keeps it by the book.

Billy photo
Read Billy's movie reviews on his special archive page.

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 17, 2003

Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf of the Disney Channel's Even Stevens) is a teenager who suffers from perpetual bad luck because of a family curse passed down through generations of Yelnats men.

While walking down a sidewalk one lazy afternoon, he is smacked in the head by a pair of sneakers that come out of nowhere. After being accused of stealing the sneakers, he is sentenced to 18 months at a bizarre "camp" in the middle of an arid Texas wasteland. The camp is run by an oddball cast of characters that oversees the daily activities of the group of wayward teenage boys serving time.

Every day, each misfit must dig a hole precisely 5 feet deep by 5 feet wide, an activity supposedly meant to build character. Stanley, however, suspects that the camp warden has other intentions. He plans to figure out what they are and shed his family curse along the way.

Louis Sachar, the author of the novel Holes, also wrote the screenplay, which hews closely to the book. The story is unique, if not a bit abstract, and that is refreshing. The cast is strong, especially the adults, with Jon Voight, Henry Winkler, Sigourney Weaver and Patricia Arquette giving enthusiastic performances. The young actors give their characters distinctive personalities that work well when played off one another. This is the first film this year that I've left the theater saying, "Hey, that was really great!"

The plot reveals itself a little at a time and drops clues that keep you engrossed. Eventually, it is tied together neatly.

Don't let the trailers mislead you into thinking that this movie is for guys only. It is sure to please a wide audience. Because of the plot's intricacies, the appropriate age for this film is 10 and up.

-- Billy Norris, 15, is in ninth grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.


  • Grade: A
  • Director: Andrew Davis
  • Screenplay: Louis Sachar
  • Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Shia LaBeouf, Tim Blake Nelson
  • Rating: PG; violence, mild language, mature themes
  • Running time: 111 minutes

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