Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo from Walt Disney Pictures

Camp Green Lake is the main setting for Walt Disney Pictures’ Holes. But a picturesque blue lake surrounded by shady trees, chirping birds and cute fury wildlife that you might expect from a Disney film is starkly absent. The lake dried up many years ago and the camp is a juvenile correction center where the young inmates are tasked to dig one hole a day everyday in the hot desert sun. The only birds are vultures waiting for someone to die from the bite of a rattlesnake or a highly poisonous lizard whose venom makes death almost instantaneous.

Based on the novel by Louis Sachar, Holes takes us on a journey of mythic proportion that keeps the audience intrigued as it interweaves past and present events into what at first seems like a patchwork quilt but soon materializes into a colorful mosaic of intriguing characters.

Shia La Beouf and Khleo Thomas play the two young stars of this comic drama, Stanley Yelnats IV and Zero. Stanley comes from long lines of Yelnats’ (spell it backwards), which have been living under a curse since the first Stanley forgot to fulfill a bargain with a psychic. But don’t get over anxious. This and much more of the Yelnats’ unlucky and comic past will be revealed in several colorful flashbacks as the story progresses. It draws you in slowly like digging a deep hole in a dry lake, but eventually light bulbs flash on in your brain and you’re delighted by what you discover.

In addition to all the great young characters including one called Armpit and one named Squid, the older characters present some unique challenges for Sigourney Weaver, the warden, and her right and left hand men Mr. Sir (Jon Voight) and Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson). All three are so absurd that it’s a challenge to ground them in reality and make them believable and well-rounded. All three actors meet the challenge, but the one that does it with the most humor is Voight who looks like a bad interpretation of a very old Elvis impersonator.

This is a great movie to take your kids to see, but parents will enjoy it just as much. It has a way of unearthing buried treasures from the deep holes in your mind.

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