Mini-Rental Review: Holes

I saw most of "Holes" on TV one day a couple months ago, but I missed the beginning half or so of the movie. So I went to the video rental place last night and grabbed it, having a craving for a good family flick that wasn’t insipid.

Note that I haven’t read the book "Holes," by one of my favorite children’s authors, Louis Sachar (pronounced Suh-CAR, believe it or not), but I really should.

The movie was great. It’s one of the few really realistic depictions of kids I’ve seen on the big screen, because they fight, bluster, mouth off to adults and each other, but also move to defend each other and cheer each other on against mutual enemies.

In short, they’re not cutesy, they’re not perfect, and they’re not two-dimensional. The kids in "Holes" seem like real kids.

And the dialogue and plot aren’t overly cutesy either. Stanley Yelnats, played by Shia LeBeouf in his breakout role, is sent to a juvie camp for a crime he didn’t commit, where he is forced to dig holes all day, every day, to "build character." Except the holes may have some sinister purpose of their own, with the entire project driven by the sweet-and-deadly Warden, played by Sigourney Weaver.

Unlike most nauseatingly sappy "family" films, this is one adults can actually enjoy along with the kids. And Patricia Arquette has a pretty good part in it too.