When I first saw the trailer for Holes I had no idea what it was, but was kind of curious because the main kid was on a TV show and he’s pretty funny. I also liked the use of the music with the sprawling aerial shots of a hole-ridden desert. But until I saw the plug saying “the book is now the movie” I had no idea it was a book.
Well, it is a book, and apparently a rather popular one by Louis Sachar, and guess what, he wrote the screenplay too. So I would imagine it’s pretty faithful to the source…

Holes tells the story of the Yelnatses, and their curse. (Apparently there’s more to the curse than just the fact that their surname is “Yelnats”, though that in and of it self is pretty bad…)
Anyway, the Yelnats men are cursed because the first Yelnats to come to America forgot to do something before leaving his native country and was cursed for doing so. But the story develops with an interesting subplot that then all gets rather tidily wrapped in a perdy lil’ bow.
That’s not really a spoiler…I mean, just cause I say things get wrapped up doesn’t really say anything about outcome, etc. So don’t report me to the spoiler police!

So Shia LaBeouf stars as Stanley Yelnats the 4th…oh yeah, all the Yelnats men are named Stanley, for an obvious reason that’s clearly mentioned in the ads. He’s the young actor I referenced in the opening paragraph. See, I have no life, and so I have occasionally resorted to watching some odd choices of TV entertainment. One such oddity is a family show on the Disney Channel called Even Stevens. Anyway, LaBeouf is (was?…I think it’s stopped production) on that show and he’s very funny. I mean the lines and situations are basic kid sitcom type things, but he has a certain charm and charisma, and great delivery. Anyway the head honchos at Disney must have liked him a lot because they gave him the closest thing to a lead that Holes has (it’s really an ensemble piece.) He does a really nice job here, even though he’s not really funny…it’s a pretty straight role.
The rest of the cast is very good too, but too numerous to mention individually. Suffice it to say that all the youngsters are great. As for the adults, as usual in a family flick their roles are secondary, but still well handled. Two adults in a series of flashbacks are standouts, but I won’t say who in case you haven’t seen the ads.

Like I mentioned before, Louis Sachar wrote the screenplay, and while it’s a little convenient, it was good. Actually, I kinda wanna read the book, but in looking for it have only seen the new printing with the movie tie-in cover. I'd rather find an original version. I'm weird like that.
As for the movie itself, it can be a little slow at times, and the effects involving lizards are a bit disappointing, but it doesn’t really hurt the flick. Director Andrew Davis did a nice job. It may be a family flick, but it doesn’t really talk down to kids. I dunno just how popular the book is, but I kinda hope the movie’s a hit, even if it’s more of a cult hit, a la Goonies or something.
That would be cool. Holes is pretty cool. Check it out.

B +