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Holes (2003)

Some secrets are too big to keep hidden

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 117 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Live action Disney movies with a bit of bite are about as rare as a comprehendible utterance from Donald Duck. So, if you make the trip down to your local cinema to catch this latest offering from the world’s most mouse-obsessed studio, be prepared for the year’s best surprise. In ‘Holes’, it’s not just the rattlesnakes and yellow-spotted lizards that bite.

The little-known Shia LaBeouf takes centre stage as palindrome-named Stanley Yelnats, a youngster wrongly accused of stealing a celebrity’s shoes and sentenced to 18 months at Camp Greenlake. Not only is it neither green nor at a lake, but it’s slap-bang in the middle of the Texan desert and 100 miles in any direction from the next water source. What’s worse, the in-mates are made to dig giant holes in the desert every day. But is it simply to “build character” as the wicked warden (Sigourney Weaver) would have the kids believe, or is there more to it?

Adapted from Louis Sacher’s multiple-award winning kids’ book of the same title, this imaginative, fascinating and totally unpredictable tale is more than a little reminiscent of some of Roald Dahl’s best work. Three stories – two of which are told in flashback and all linking together nicely at the end – are squeezed into the two hour running time, which positively flies by.

The movie features some genuinely memorable performances, with Weaver brilliantly nasty, whilst Tim Blake Nelson and a ridiculous-as-ever Jon Voight get to ham it up as her two bungling assistants. There are also some great turns from Henry Winkler as Stanley’s crackpot old man, Patricia Arquette as the smalltown schoolteacher whose doomed inter-racial romance with an onion-picker leads her to a life of crime, and young Khleo Thomas as an illiterate youngster who “just likes digging holes”.

It's Got: Onions, peaches, foot odour, and some particularly aggressive reptiles.

It Needs: Another refill for those water canisters.


Rarely have I enjoyed a kiddy-flick so much – this is a movie every member of the family, young or old, will be able to get involved in. One of the best movies of 2003.