I suppose kids eat this sort of thing up. To each his own. Give me The Matrix any day.

I was recently conscripted to watch the children’s film Holes. I assure you I was a gracious guest and stayed seated the entire time, with not so much as a single fidget or squirm. How in the world did I last the entirety of this kid’s flick, you might ask? It wasn’t easy. Let me tell you why…

I can see how the Harry Potter crowd would eat this movie up. Apparently from a wildly popular children’s novel, Holes tells the tale of Stanley Yelnats and his ancestral curse of poor luck. Did you notice anything odd about that name of his? Yep, that’s right: the first is in reverse order of the last. Cute, huh?

Poor Stanley gets stuck in a children’s resort that more resembles a labor camp. And of course the camp staff are up to no good with a buried treasure quest. Even you can guess why all the holes in Holes abound. Get it?

Holes had that sort of unmistakable nursery rhyme juvenile justice. You know, where the bad guys are unbelievably cruel adults, but at the end they get their comeuppance in spade. It’s usually by emasculation or defrocking. For instance, John Voight’s character’s true name is inexplicably revealed as a woman’s, Tim Blake Nelson’s psychiatrist is a fraud, and Sigourney Weaver’s warden (the prototypical evil step mother) is stripped of her children’s camp.

There is one rather dark subplot involving a female bank robber from the 1800s and her black lover. To be honest, that tangent felt forced. I didn’t really understand what it had to do with our young Jewish protagonist, aside from the general theme of disaffection.

The psychiatrist especially bothered me. When we first meet him, he says to Stanley, “Though you have done bad things, you are not a bad kid.” I got the impression that he would be the one decent adult in this work camp, because he sounded sincere. In his next scene, he’s introducing this other kid as having “nothing in his stupid little head.” It was a 180 degree character shift.

Voight and Weaver are quite good at hamming it up. I suppose kids eat this sort of thing up. To each his own. Give me The Matrix any day.

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  1. We saw it a while back and enjoyed it. It’s not a classic, overall average, but still a pretty good kids / family movie for a rainy or hot day.

    PS: We turned the knob in our head to kid/teenager 😉

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