Holes is based on a 1999 Louis Sachar novel of the same name written for young adults. The book has been published in more than 30 countries and has won the prestigious Newbery Medal and the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, amongst many other accolades. Sachar has written more than 20 books for children and Holes was first adapted as a stage play in Seattle as part of the city’s literacy program. Andrew Davis, best known for directing the intelligent thriller, The FugitiveÂ (1993), wanted to adapt the book because it was beloved and read by so many children.
Holes, if you haven’t guessed it by now, is a kiddies film, although it is one of those rare stories that adults will enjoy as well. This is Disney with edge; there’s no Bambi in Holes. It is an odd film that is both funny and serious. It is not every day you get a film directed at kids which looks at fate, friendship and redemption along with a dose of good versus evil coated in very cheesy slapstick, including the usual smelly shoes and fart jokes.
It seems the book is so beloved that actors were clamouring to get involved and consequently Davis gathered a stellar cast. Sigourney Weaver, whose own daughter read the book when she was eight, plays the evil Warden to perfection. Jon Voight is brilliant as Mr Sir; Timothy Blake Nelson contributes his usual cornball style as Dr Pendanski; Patricia Arquette lives out her tomboy fancies as Kissin’ Kate Barlow and Eartha Kitt has a surreal role as the gypsy, Madam Zeroni. The kids are also good. Shia La Beouf (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) holds his own as the lead character Stanley Yelnats and is well supported by Khleo Thomas as his off-beat sidekick.
Holes was hugely successful at the box office in the US and is considered a very good adaptation of the novel, thanks to Sachar’s role in adapting the screenplay. Three stories are intertwined in layers and at times the plot does become more than a little confusing and odd to say the least. Despite that, it is rollicking, feel-good fun. Karyn Rachtman’s (Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights) soundtrack is outstanding and the film is well worth seeing solely for the outstanding ensemble cast.