Holes (4)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


Holes is the story of a boy, Stanley (Shia LaBeouf), who’s sent to a work camp after being accused of stealing a pair of sneakers (shades of Jean Valjean!).  Everyone at the camp is put to work digging holes in a dry lakebed.  There are flashbacks and a bad warden (Sigourney Weaver) with two bad underlings (Jon Voight and Tim Blake Nelson), and Stanley’s friend, Zero (Khleo Thomas).  The story is why in the world are they digging all these holes, raising memories of John Lennon wondering how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall?  But should it take 111 minutes to tell this story?  Not in this lifetime, it shouldn’t.  I could tell it in ten minutes and, using literary license, could even fill a normal 90-minute movie so it wasn’t too tedious.  But 111 minutes?  Not bloody likely.

 But these people must be living in some nether world, certainly not in America. Stanley is a good boy with no record who’s hit on the head by a pair of sneakers and then arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to prison.  Worse, he’s sent to what appears to be a chain gang type camp populated entirely by children at hard labor.  I’d like the filmmakers to tell me where this happens in America.  China and Cuba, maybe, not America.  Talk about a sick, surrealistic fantasy world!

 Stanley’s family, seemingly nice people (the father is The Fonz, Henry Winkler, who’s a nerd more interested in his inventions than in Stanley’s plight), doesn’t care a lick about him .until the end. This is a real never-never land. On one level I guess children will like it because it is about children.  But what kind of filmmakers make a children’s movie that wants children to believe that a good, well-mannered, young boy can be railroaded into prison because he was inadvertently hit on the head by a pair of sneakers, and then that he’d be sentenced to hard labor in a hell-hole of a desert?  This is no story I’d want an impressionable child to witness.  This is more a horror story than a children’s story.  But, then, Bambi’s pretty frightening, too, so Disney’s in familiar territory here.

 The only thing worthwhile in this movie for me was Jon Voight’s performance, which was off the board.  This is a Voight never seen before.

 OK, some people won’t take this as seriously as I did, and will enjoy it.  Children might enjoy it. As far as I’m concerned, in addition to being far too long, it’s reprehensible to make a movie like this, give it a ridiculous Hollywood happy ending, and then target it to children.

 May 1, 2003

 The End