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HOLES

A no-nonsense prison warden and her two yes-men force juvenile inmates to dig deep holes in the desert sands of Texas because harsh discipline and back-breaking labor build character. Besides, the warden happens to know something she shouldn’t about some buried treasure.

CAST: Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson, Shia LaBeouf, Patricia Arquette, Henry Winkler, Eartha Kitt, Nathan Davis, Khleo Thomas, Jake M. Smith, Byron Cotton

DIRECTOR: Andrew Davis

"Louis Sachar's young adult novel ‘Holes’ has become a literary phenomenon because of how fervently its target audience has embraced it. It's now been turned into a movie with the younger crowd in mind, but older adults savvy enough to disregard labels will find it surprisingly rewarding. Working from a screenplay by Sachar himself, director Andrew Davis, best known for ‘The Fugitive,’ has come up with a sweetly entertaining fable about strange doings in a juvenile correction facility in Texas that switches tones between the comic and the menacing…‘Holes,’ as opposed to many films about young people, neither preaches nor panders." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"…a movie so strange that it escapes entirely from the family genre and moves into fantasy. Like ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ it has fearsome depths and secrets… ‘Holes’ jumps the rails, leaves all expectations behind, and tells a story that's not funny ha-ha but funny peculiar. I found it original and intriguing…I walked in expecting a movie for thirteensomethings, and walked out feeling challenged and satisfied. Curious, how much more grown up and sophisticated ‘Holes’ is than ‘Anger Management.’ --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Those who come to the movie cold will find it an exasperating assembly of brutal pedantry and whimsies, boasting far less charm or grace than even the first ‘Harry Potter’ picture …the way Louis Sachar has adapted his own novel and Andrew Davis has directed it, the wacky subplots just spill out higgledy-piggledy and land on your head…patience wears away as the film laboriously fits each detail into a destiny that rewards the righteous and punishes the villains…The comedy falls as limp as a snapless cartoon; the melodrama lacks even the ersatz, industrial-grade excitement of such Andrew Davis thrillers as ‘The Fugitive.’" --Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

"The director, Andrew Davis (‘The Fugitive’), has turned the book's spare, gritty allegory into a shaggy-dog saga that is sometimes hectic but always surprising and never easy, predictable or false…The tough, prickly camaraderie among the boys and their solidarity in the face of adult cruelty give the picture its heart…The weaselly Mr. Nelson, the growly, strutting Mr. Voight and the chilly, feline Ms. Weaver form a fine menagerie of grown-up corruption…Mr. LaBeouf, with his soft face and curly hair, rises to the challenge of depicting a coddled, sensitive young man who must prove his toughness without sacrificing his decency…Yes, ‘Holes’ is certainly the thing that schoolchildren will drag their parents to see on spring-break afternoons, but the parents who are dragged will find themselves watching the best film released by a major American studio so far this year." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"You don't have to be a kid to dig ‘Holes’… Andrew Davis' very un-Disney-like Disney movie is a dense yarn with a range of humor, imagination and emotions as wide as the desert floor upon which it is set…It's a wonder that Disney is releasing the film under its family banner. The movie has very scary moments involving venomous creatures, an occult narrative thread, magic realism, some blunt violence and a major subplot about an interracial romance. We're a long way here from ‘Song of the South.’ But ‘Holes’ is indeed a great family movie." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"Though this Disney version was adapted by Louis Sachar himself, it fails to be anything special. It makes passable preteen entertainment but comes off as clunky and heavy-handed in most of the places it should be graceful and enchanting…The plot points are predictable, the characters seem impossibly broad, and the direction has no subtlety. The whole thing plays like one more TV after-school special. Worse, the film so concentrates on the non-stop cruelty suffered by the young hero that it sends a morbid message. It all ends happily, of course, but not before painting such an ugly view of the world that its PG-rating seems highly questionable." --William Arnold, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Just when it seemed as if the Harry Potter tomes were the only thing going in contemporary kid's fiction, Disney has unearthed a treasure in Sachar's award-winning ‘Holes,’ a wholly original heroic comedy that maintains the courage of its own screwy convictions…It's a fat, overstuffed bird of a plot, but the messiness is part and parcel of the film's off-center appeal…‘Holes’ is a wayward charmer." --Jan Stuart, Newsday

"… as bizarre a children's movie as Disney has ever made…‘Holes’ suffers even more than the 'Harry Potter' films from a compulsion to be faithful to the source material, including cramming in a head-spinning assortment of characters and subplots…‘Holes’ clocks in at nearly two hours. It's a long, slow slog through the desert, best appreciated by fans of the book." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post