Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Holes

MPAA Rating: PG for violence, mild language and some thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Megan Basham
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
10 to Adult
Genre:
Mystery/Adventure
Length:
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
2003
Shia LaBeouf and Khleo Thomas in “Holes,” courtesy of Disney
Relevant Issues
'Holes' courtesy of Disney

What is the occult?

What does the bible say about the occult?

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, John Voigt, Khleo Thomas, Tim Blake Nelson | Directed by: Andrew Davis | Produced by: Lowell D. Blank, Andrew Davis, Cary Granat, Mike Medavoy, Teresa Tucker-Davies | Written by: Brent Hanley, Louis Sachar | Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures

T hough not terribly offensive, frustrated moms and dads may unfortunately find that the author who wrote an inventive, riveting children’s book isn’t necessarily the best person to write a screenplay. Clocking in at just under two hours (thought it’ll feel more like two and a half), the literary “Holes” is likely to leave viewers under eight antsy and, as was the case in the preview I attended, screaming for something more diverting.

The story revolves around teenager Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf), a boy whose family curse lands him in a juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn’t commit. Even worse, the camp is run by a group of suspicious characters who require the boys to spend each day digging a hole five feet deep and five feet wide in the hardened ground of a dried-up Texas lake. At first, Stanley believes the hole-digging is intended to build character, but as the days pass at Camp Green Lake, he and the rest of the rag-tag group of inmates begin to suspect they’re actually digging for another sinister purpose.

Jon Voigt, Sigourney Weaver, and Tim Blake Nelson, courtesy of Disney

Sometimes, loyalty to the novel can be too much for one movie to handle. This is really too bad as the cast of young actors does a fantastic job. LaBeouf in particular, who some kids may know from the Disney television show “Even Stevens,” turns in a performance many adult actors would envy. And with a supporting cast of Jon Voigt, Sigourney Weaver, Tim Blake Nelson, and Patricia Arquette, it would seem like this film should be a sure-fire hit. However, so many idiosyncrasies that had plenty of time to become authentic in the novel, feel forced and disjointed in the film. As Stanley reflects back on the history of his family curse, children who can’t yet follow a flashback structure may become confused. Focusing on the primary storyline alone would have made “Holes” much more accessible to the Mouse House’s target audience.

As to the moral content, a few scenes might make parents hesitate, or at least have a discussion with their kids. First off is the very nature of the family curse. Apparently, many generations ago in the Yelnats family homeland (which is never identified), great-great-great-great grandfather Yelnats betrayed a fortune-teller he had enlisted for help in matters of love. The curse is then lifted when Stanley saves the life of a descendant of the fortune teller. Obviously, if you do go see it, you may want to explain to your youngsters what the Bible says about the occult and that consulting spiritualists is a sin. Also, when the boys finally revolt against the camp directors, things get a bit a violent as one kid hits an adult in the face with a shovel. Attack grownups when they’re being mean—definitely not a message we want our kids to get.

So if you’re totally in need of an afternoon where the silver screen entertains the kiddies for a couple of hours, consider taking them to “Piglet’s Big Movie” again. They may have already seen it, but at least they’ll know what’s going on.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Yes, the movie has a “reverse the curse” theme; but when you consult with a fortune teller, you end up with a curse on your life for doing so. So, you could use this tool, as I am, to explain to your children that curses happen—and they do by the way; read Deut. chapter 18. I liked the mercy that was shown between the two boys, and how the character of Stanley Yelnats was a sacrificial character. For example, he took the punishment for someone who stole some sunflower seeds and went into the desert to find his friend, Zero. There were many more examples of Stanley’s sacrifice. What did Jesus to to for us? He sacrificed for us, in many ways. He bore the curse for us. He reversed it.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Summit Wilson, age 35
Positive—I This was a delicious movie! The acting was terrific—Shia La Beouf who plays the man character was simply amazing and shone throughout the entire film. The only objectionable content is the family curse, and there is no nudity… unless you count when Stanley (Shia) changes into his camp clothes he is shown briefly in his underwear.Other than that, it is an exceptionable movie and terrific for all ages.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Darnel, age 23
Positive—We had not read the book, but loved the movie and now will read it. We disagree with the main reviewer, who seems to only have a child’s response in mind. The story works as a parable on so many levels that age should not matter, although it does make your head swim a bit. Themes include reaping what you sow and carrying each other’s burdens. All told, we could not find anything here that did not land on its feet from a Christian perspective. This is a movie that requires concentration, though. There are so many back-stories and subplots and loose-ends wrapped up by the end that the title becomes a sort of joke: there are no holes!
My Ratings: [Excellent / 4]
—Dean and Laura Van Druff, ages 32 and 42
Positive—I really liked this movie and didn’t think it was slow. I didn’t like the stupid way the adults were characterized, but that’s the director’s fault, not the screenplay writer. I loved the bond that was formed between Stanley and Zero and the almost covenant-like commitment they developed. Yes, it revolved around a psychic’s curse, but even the Bible talks about curses. It is always wise for parents to discuss movies with their children. Personally I’d prefer my youngsters to see a movie like this, where the bad guys get caught and punished and the good guys get vindicated, than some of the twisted stuff that’s out there where they show killing for the sake of killing or people jumping in and out of bed with everyone and anyone!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Polly, age 48
Positive—My sixth grade daughter wanted to see “Holes” because she had read it in school. Going to see “Holes” opened the doors to a discussion about the book and the movie. She stated that the book is somewhat confusing until the end when the story lines are connected. I think if a student has read the book, the parent should go to the movie with the student. My third grade son found the movie somewhat confusing because it jumped back and forth from the past to the present. My children understand that we do not believe in, or watch, or listen to anyone who supposedly tells the future (or talks to the dead). This movie is a story that can lead to discussions and a movie that demands that a child pay attention and use his brain. The literary value is an excellent reason to see “Holes”.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—J. Rodgers, age 40