Movie Review – HOLES

HOLES – A Movie – viewed opening night, on April 25, 2003

Comments by Isidore Shapiro:

The moment I walked into the theater, I wondered if I belonged with so many young children. Had I made an error reading favorable reviews and fallen into the usual trap of going to a film that some writer thought was unusual?

The story is ludicrous, but in such a charming way! It is a fanciful fairy tale with an elaborate plot that comes together so warmly, even poignantly, that the viewer is glad to have been part of it all. There is a wonderful logic to the adventure, as the different pieces of the plot begin to coalesce. We smile and cry as we shake our heads in wonder at the ingenuity of the writer, director, and the wonderful characters superbly portrayed by the good and bad guys.

But there is far more in “Holes” that reflects upon our current approach to delinquent children. The movie’s judicial system, police, and oversight bodies are not only inept and neglectful but given to theories about children that smack of the Middle Ages.

Are we to take seriously that digging holes in barren, parched land will develop a child’s character? Although the real reasons for such meaningless and painful tasks have nothing to do with child psychology, the protagonists of this illegal operation offer typical clichŽs unrelated to the real feelings of the children portrayed.

All good stories have a moral. No child will escape it even while absorbed in the plight of the young heroes and their eventual vindication. No evil deed goes unpunished.

Where there is murder, God will no longer nourish the site of that sin until there is justice. We leave the theater with that comforting image because it is wonderful to have that belief and faith. It is a fairy tale good for all of us.

The bad guys are really foolish even as they act cruelly. The children find a unity and cohesiveness that spells out hope for and belief in the innate potential in every child. Whatever tension and danger emerges during the course of events is never excessive or contrived.

“Holes” has a mountain climbing scene that is unrealistic for boys without any ropes or equipment. But that fantasy is easily overlooked because the function of the climb is to tie the plot together and set the stage for the final dramatic moments.

My friend John’s observations, about my hesitation in seeing a film that drew hundreds of children, was astute. We were, however, delightfully surprised as I believe everyone will find it so too.

Comments by John Nemerovski

“Holes” is hot! It’s going to be a huge success this spring and summer, acclaimed for many reasons, all worthwhile. You can learn a ton about the movie by visiting Rotten Tomatoes and typing HOLES in the search box near the top of your screen. When I last checked, 87 out of 114 reviewers gave the film positive evaluations.

If you are young in age or spirit, “Holes” will make sense even though it doesn’t. If you’re a middle-ager or an oldster, enjoy the movie for what it is and don’t fault it for what it isn’t.

The kid who plays Zero, Khleo Thomas, has the potential for becoming a future BIG STAR, with a little bit of luck. Jon Voight brilliantly overplays his comic-book character. Cultural stereotypes plague and inform the “backstory,” which establishes the moral foundation mentioned by Isidore in his thoughtful response to “Holes.”

An added bonus in this feel-good non-thriller is the musical score. Pay attention to it, if you can, because it’s enjoyable. You’ll leave the theater singing “Dig It,” then march right over to Borders & Noble to purchase the soundtrack and your own copy of “How To Grow My Hair So I Look Like Zero.”

If this were a product and not a movie, our rating would be:

MacMice Rating: 3 out of 5
Shows promise! Could be better, but a product worth watching.

John Nemerovski

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