*** Official "HOLES" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Edwin Pereyra, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    The potential for Holes to be a much better film is certainly there. But under the Walt Disney Pictures banner, the edgier part of the story has been toned down to make way for a more family friendly fare. In the film, the adults are looked at as comical characters or to serve as comic relief for the film’s more serious themes including racism, family relations, fate, literacy and greed. Depending on how one look at it, this particular choice in storytelling may or may not work.

    There is no doubt however, that the film could have made a bigger impact on adults. However, since the film’s primary target audience is pre-teens to young teenagers, it may have just about achieved the right mix. So while a less edgy tone is taken by director Andrew Davies (The Fugitive), the film is filled with an aura if optimism and intelligence.

    Based on Louis Sachar’s 1998 novel of the same name, Holes tells the story of a teenager wrongly accused of a crime who is sent to a Texas boot camp. There, the kids are forced to dig holes in a desert as a “character building experience”. Soon the kids find out the truth behind all the excavating. The adults are played by Sigourney Weaver as the warden, Jon Voight and Tim Blake Nelson as her henchmen, Henry Winkler and Patricia Arquette, among others. There is also a cameo by no other than Eartha Kitt.

    The two young primary actors playing the kids are Shia LaBeouf as Stanley and Khleo Thomas as Zero. Both exude a level of confidence in their respective roles.

    As a film aimed at young kids, Holes is better than other films in recent memory because of its emphasis on serious moral issues rather than on bathroom humor.

  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Holes". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.

  3. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
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    Monroe, LA
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    Tim Glover
    Took my 2 daughters to see this movie today. We enjoyed it!
    I thought Jon Voight nearly stole the show!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Feb 8, 2001
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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of four

    Okay I love and adore the original book and I had mixed expectations going in.

    Luckily I was delighted for the entire movie, they didn't try to force the material to be more 'filmic' (ie fit Hollywood standards of what you can do in a movie--see William Goldman's vomit inducing 'filmic' adaptation of Stephen King's hearts in Atlantis). Instead the filmmakers wisely toke a novel that was very cinematic to begin with and adjusted the material or the film as was needed. Bravo for Andrew Davis for giving the writer the respect he deserves. IT makes all the difference in the world that he had a writer that cared deeply about the material (the original author) instead of hiring a professional Hollywood/filmschool hatchet who didn't care about the material but did care about 'making it their own'. I wish more directors (and studios, thank god for Walden Studios, finally a studio willing to take 'risks' by producing INTELLIGENT family fare) were this flexible and open minded.

    If you start looking I think people would be astonished at how many Hollywood rules this breaks. For instance the race rule: practically all the kids other than Stanley are minorities at the camp; according to Hollywood that many minorities in the cast would mean that white people would be afraid to see it. or how about the rules of linear structure? sure both real time and flashbacks tend to go in chronological order, but it still might be 'too confusing' for normal people to get. Then there's the rule that kids films can't deal with serious issues without constant comic relief and schizophrenic editing--broken. The rule that kids can't carry a film with serious issues. The rule that a theme must be pounded into your head again and again--busted, beaten into a dead horse and then the horse was ground into dust--consider the themes, homelessness, illiteracy, prostitution (clearer in the book), interracial romantic relationships, racism, revenge, obsession, greed, abuse etc. But this never makes the film schizophrenic or light. these issues are rarely the main focus but they are issues the main characters (usually) have to constantly deal with from day to day anyway. So instead of pounding a moral message into kids heads (ala Seventh Heaven) we instead have morally ambiguous characters. Kissin Kate Barlow murders people in cold blood, but we understand why, it's not condoned, but its comprehensible and sad. Stanley's something of a lazy jerk that doesn't want to help Zero until Zero goes out of his way to help him. and so on.

    True the film does pretty much tie everything up in a fairly neat package, but I'm not going to hold that against the film, since part of the fun of the book (and to a lesser extent the movie) was understanding how all these weaving stories fit together by the end of the book.

    I have a few quibbles with the film, mainly in the editing department. For the most part they were pretty good about not spoonfeeding the audience (except for climbing the thumb), but they missed an oppurtunity for a GREAT reveal at the end in the final hole, they could have faded to Sam selling onion juice, explain what it was for and then fade back and its dawn--instead of just fading from night to dawn as in the movie. My guess is the reason the explanation is a throwaway line early on is that it confused test audiences to go out-of-order in the flashback time period. So since Sam's death is from a long shot (PG rating and all) I bet that people thought it meant that Sam was still alive
    . Musical accompaniament was often jarring for me, because I'd have preferred a rich score.

    Performances were excellent generally all around with the exception of Jon Voight. Voight does an excellent job as Mr. Sir and was perfect casting, but he's often the only adult that seems to be OVERacting. He just hams it up a little too much--chews the scenary instead of his sunflower seeds. Tim Blake Nelson was wonderful, but the Mr. Pendanski character was much more distant in the book. However he really nailed the character when he wasn't channeling O Brother Where art Thou? and playing the character as stupid. Sigourney Weaver was excellent but didn't go over the top, giving the proper impression of a borderline insane person. Let's just say that Henry Winkler was absolutely perfect and leave it at that.

    Despite all my misgivings SHea LeBeouf was an excellent Stanley. I still think that the story works better with a fat Stanley, but the film works fine without that change, a testament to the excellent adaptation done. Zero was outstanding, note perfect capture. For the most part the boys were great, although they completely missed my vision of X Ray (although I really really like the film version, my own personal was different is all). The old west characters were nice ESPECIALLY Patricia Arquette as KKB and whoever it was that played Sam, fantastic bit of marvelous romance there, they absolutley nailed the "I can fix that" which is probably one of my favorite scenes this year so far. TRout was appropriately disgusting although over the top. I never felt for Stanley Yelnats the first though, and those scenes just didn't seem right, wouldn't be surprised if theywere second unit stuff.

    My biggest beef with the film is the desaturated to sepia look in the KKB montage, the silent stock footage was nice, and a fun nod, but it was very jarring to go from the cool and beautiful looking stock footage to color stock that's been desaturated, a major, major difference. would make a good tutorial about the difference of shooting color or bW stock.

    The Yellow Spotted Lizards were okay, the animation was better than average but not great, the physical/animation interaction was below average though. I'll let that slide for now because hte final scene had me convinced and not criticizing--credit that to all around good filmmaking.

    AS you can tell I really enjoyed the film, number 2 this year so far.
  5. Jake Johnson

    Jake Johnson Second Unit

    Apr 25, 2003
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    Holes gets a B+ or an A-...I still can't decide.
    I really liked this movie. John Voight was really really really good, I thought. The thing that I liked the best about this movie, is that the adults were not portrayed as bumbling idiots, as they usually are in "kids" films.
    I felt that the director (Andrew Davis) wanted the film to have more of an edge to it, which would have improved it for me. But as one reviewer already said, they probably have achieved the perfect mix for their target audience.
    The kid who plays Zero was very good. Haley Joel Osment, eat your heart out! I felt that there were too many parts that were sped up into fast motion. I know this was done to make it look wacky, and kooky, but those scenes felt like a country music video. You ever notice that tons of countrty music videos have a lot of fast motion in them? country videos are the worst.

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