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Holes (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'The Boys of D-Tent' featurette. 'Digging the First Hole' featurette; Deleted scenes; Gag reel; Cast commentaries; Director commentary; D-Tent Boys music video 'Dig It'.

IT’S not often that a kids’ movie can be described as being a little too mature for its target audience, yet Holes could buck the trend by actually being a film that transcends its age group.

Whether this works to the film’s advantage remains to be seen, however, for while this is a film that the adults won’t mind taking their kids to, it remains to be seen whether such an intelligent story will keep the little ones amused for its duration.

In its favour, Disney’s latest is adapted by Nobel Prize winner, Louis Sachar, from his bestselling novel, which recently topped a Read magazine poll of the most popular books among children, beating even Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Yet working against it, is the current fascination for quick-fix eye candy, as dictated to by the MTV culture which exists among the majority of today’s youth, thanks to the proliferation of computer games and pop videos that are never far from the screens.

Holes centres around luckless hero, Stanley Yates (Shia LaBeouf), who is wrongly convicted of stealing some trainers, and sent to a desert prison for juvenile offenders.

Under the strict control of The Warden (Sigourney Weaver), and her two intellectually challenged henchmen, Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and Dr Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson), the children are forced to dig holes in search of clues to a lost fortune, while avoiding the unwanted attentions of the local poisonous lizards.

The fortune in question was lost in the desert at the end of an ill-fated romance between a wild west schoolteacher-turned-outlaw (Patricia Arquette) and a black onion seller (Dule Hill), while Stanley’s plight is compounded by the fact that his family has been cursed to bad luck, following the exploits of his great-great-grandfather, which is also told in flashback.

With so much story, it is little wonder that younger members of the audience will probably have difficulty keeping up, while those who require a car chase, some special effects and a bit of a bang for their buck will quickly become bored.

For those willing to stick with it, however, Holes builds nicely to a suitably feelgood conclusion, emerging as the type of film which can equally be enjoyed by the grown-ups.

Much of the reason for this lies in the appeal of its performances, with Voigt, in particular, revelling in his ‘evil’ role, and the children, themselves, avoiding the need to become obnoxious. There is also a delightful cameo from Henry ‘The Fonz’ Wrinkler, as Stanley’s mad inventor father, which leaves you wishing he was on-screen longer.

Director, Andrew Davis, deserves credit for keeping things as lively as he does, while also not allowing too much sentiment to dominate proceedings late on.

If Finding Nemo is undoubtedly the hot ticket for all the family at the moment, Holes could yet provide a neat alternative for those willing to investigate its charms. It is a wily and amusing customer with a heart-warming story to tell.

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