Quick Movie Review: Holes (2003)

A few weekends back, the missus and I watched part of Holes on TV, but neither of us were very focused. We liked what we saw enough to move it to the top of the Netflix Queue. I assumed we’d just turn it on at the moment we stopped watching (probably 20-30 minutes before the end, maybe less) and just see how it ended. However, the missus wanted to watch from the beginning because she was in and out of the room the first time around. No big deal, I figured I’d read comics while it was on, but I actually found myself drawn back into the story.

The movie–based on a book I never heard of before the movie came out–stars Shia LaBeouf as a kid whose great great grandfather got cursed because of a pig and a girl way back in the day. That bad luck carries through to Shia as he gets unfairly sentenced to a work camp after a pair of stolen autographed shoes literally fall out of the sky and are found on his person by the cops. Said camp is run by the warden played by Sigourney Weaver and her underling Jon Voight. Shia and the other kids are made to dig holes five feet deep and five feet across one a day for as long as they’re there to build character. They’re continually told they’re digging for their own good, but if they find something, they’re supposed to tell one of the adults. Meanwhile, we get multiple flashbacks to Shia’s relatives getting cursed as well as the inhabitants of this area back when a lake was in the place of a desert.

I was really impressed with how well put together this movie is. You can pick up what’s going on and how the different stories relate to what Shia’s going through, but if not, they’re explained soon after. There were parts I caught on to pretty early on and others the missus explained to me right before the movie did. The whole thing plays out as a pretty interesting mystery, which makes sense considering you get the feeling there is a reason for them to be digging holes aside from, as the adults say, building character. It’s funny though, as Shia continues to dig the holes, he does wind up building character thanks to his growing friendship with the younger character Zero, a fellow “camper.” Anyway, the movie has a bit of a fantasy bent to it but more in the fairy tale sense. In fact, that’s what the story reminded me of the most a really well put together fairy tale complete with curse, witch, moral and most importantly kids throwing off the yokes of adult oppression and proving that they’re smart enough to get by.

I highly recommend the movie. I’m still thinking about it now and it inspired me to start eating sunflower seeds again (I literally saw Voight eating them on screen and ran out to buy some from the nearby gas station). It can be a nasty habit, but I love them.

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