Naughty boys dig holes to build character in a modern fairytale involving, well, pretty much everything.
I don't watch a lot of kids films because, well, because they're for kids and so they don't really appeal to me anymore. But then Holes came along and I'd heard it said that you could enjoy it even though you're all grown up these days. Yes, yes, I know Shrek etc work on more than one level but I don't much go for the American animation as I find they tend towards schmaltz and more often than not contain a song or two. Also, I like my animals to act like animals not Americans, but that's a whole other show.Anyway, maybe it's because I'm not a kid anymore or maybe it's because they don't make 'em like they used to, but kids films just don't seem the same these days, except this one , which , ok it's no E.T. or Goonies, but it's certainly edging in that direction.
I'd never even heard of Louis Sachar's best selling novel of the same name, let alone read it, so how the film stands up as an adaptation I couldn't say (though I get the impression it's pretty successful in that respect) but I can see why it's so popular, it's such a great story. It's basically a modern fairytale involving crime and punishment, friendship, forbidden love across a racial divide, outlaws, buried treasure, organic veg, man and donkey love (in the right way) and stinky feet.
I hadn't expected Holes to be such a rich fairytale-like film, I'd just expected a quirky story about bad boys at a detention centre and surely enough that was how it began as Stanley Yelnats (that joke never wore out on me, it's a palindrome don't you know) digs holes in the desert for his sins. But what evolves from this seemingly simple storyline is a funny, ridiculous and touching modern fairytale that I find hard to imagine not appealing to everyone. The reason Holes works so well is that it's kids acting like kids in a Malcolm in the Middle sort of way ( i.e. like children actually are) not in the way adults think they do or should act. They're not all cutesy and clever and overly
moralistic, they behave like real children. There are great performances all round (including Eartha Kitt. Who knew she was still alive?), well rounded direction and some suitably barren cinematography. The only complaint I have on
a technical level is that bar one occasion the soundtrack seemed to sit a little uneasily with the film.
There are so many layers to this film, it's not unlike peeling an onion. There were moments when I was worried that the current story and the back story weren't going to mesh properly but they did, perfectly, and all with a great ending. Thankfully the cheese was kept to a minimum so it has an easily digestible feel-good vibe. Please don't be put off by it being a kid's film, it'll make you feel (for a bit anyway) like all the magic didn't disappear when you grew up and life turned shit, and that's a good thing isn't it?
A strangely magical 8/10