Holes (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Davis
Produced by Andrew Davis
Lowell D. Blank
Mike Medavoy
Teresa Tucker-Davies
Screenplay by Louis Sachar
Based on Holes 
by Louis Sachar
Starring Sigourney Weaver
Jon Voight
Patricia Arquette
Tim Blake Nelson
and Shia LaBeouf
Music by Joel McNeely
Cinematography Stephen St. John
Edited by Thomas J. Nordberg
Jeffrey Wolf
Walt Disney Pictures
Walden Media
Phoenix Pictures
Chicago Pacific Entertainment
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (US)
Release date(s)
  • April 18, 2003 (2003-04-18) (US)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $71,406,573[1]

Holes is a 2003 American comedy-drama adventure film based on the 1998 novel of the same title by Louis Sachar (who also wrote the screenplay), with Shia LaBeouf as the lead role of Stanley Yelnats the Fourth and also starring Khleo Thomas, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Arquette, Dulé Hill, Rick Fox, and Henry Winkler. The film was produced by Walden Media and distributed on many markets by Disney's distribution company Buena Vista.

Holes was Scott Plank's final film; he died October 24, 2002.


Stanley Yelnats the Fourth is a descendant of an unfortunate family that has been cursed for 100 years due to their ancestor Elya Yelnats, who didn't keep a promise to a fortune-teller, Madame Zeroni. One day, Stanley is arrested for stealing a pair of sneakers that a famous baseball player named Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston had donated to a children's orphanage. At the courthouse, Stanley chooses to attend Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, for eighteen months. He arrives to find that the "camp" is a dried-up lake run by Louise Walker the Warden, her assistant Mr. Sir, and camp counselor Dr. Pendanski. Each day, the detainees must dig a five-foot round hole in the desert to "build character", despite the dangers of scorpions, rattlesnakes, and yellow-spotted lizards. The inmates are known by their nicknames. Stanley is slowly accepted into the group, especially after allowing X-Ray to take credit for his discovery of a gold lipstick tube, with the initials "KB" believed to mean "Kate Barlow". Stanley is given the nickname of "Caveman" because of his ability to find old objects. He soon befriends Hector "Zero" Zeroni and teaches him to read, and in return, Hector helps Stanley in digging up his holes.

In a flashback story from a century earlier, it is revealed that Camp Green Lake was once a thriving town with the largest lake in Texas. Miss Katherine Barlow, a local school teacher, rejected rich landowner Trout Walker in favor of local onion vendor Sam, a black man. When the two were caught kissing, the racist townspeople went on a riot and burned the school. Sam attempted to escape on his boat, but was shot dead by Trout. Angry and heartbroken, Katherine shot and killed the local sheriff for allowing Sam's death and then kissed him, thereby beginning her career as the outlaw "Kissin' Kate Barlow". Sam's death also caused a curse to fall upon the town which resulted in an on-going drought, the town desertification and the ruin of the Walker family.

Back in the present, Louise learns about Stanley and Zero's intentions and forbids anyone from digging holes for anyone else. She also tells Stanley he is no longer allowed to teach Zero to read. After Pendanski insults Zero, the latter retaliates by hitting Pendanski in the face with a shovel and runs away. Not caring about Zero, Louise orders his file to be destroyed. After stealing Mr. Sir's truck and crashing it in a hole, Stanley sets out to find Zero and eventually finds him under the remains of what turns out to be Sam's boat, the 'Mary Lou'. Out of desperation, Stanley and Zero spot a rock formation called "God's Thumb" in the distance, and walk towards it, remembering that his great-grandfather, Stanley Yelnats I, had survived the desert by seeking refuge on the mountain after Kate Barlow robbed him. Sick and exhausted, Zero faints during their climb, leaving Stanley to carry him up the mountain. They find Sam's field of onions and water, which helps them regain strength over several days. Unknowingly, when Stanley carries Zero to the top of the mountain, sings to him and lets him drink from the stream that runs uphill, he breaks the family curse bestowed upon his great-great grandfather; Zero being a descendant of Madame Zeroni.

After Zero has woken up, he reveals he is the reason why Stanley was sent to Camp Green Lake. Since he was a lost child, he had been at a homeless shelter and walked off with Clyde's donated shoes, not knowing they were famous. After being pursued by the police, he took them off and tossed them over the bridge where they fell on Stanley's head, implicating him. Zero then explains that he was arrested the next day after stealing shoes from a Payless store. Stanley then believes the fact that they met is destiny.

In another flashback, an elder Kate Barlow is sitting at the remains of Sam's boat when she is found by the now poor Trout Walker and his wife, Linda, a former student of Kate's. At gunpoint, they demand Kate hand over her treasure, but she tells them "You, your children and your children's children will dig for 100 years and you will never find it". Kate then commits suicide by allowing a yellow-spotted lizard to bite her on her wrist and dies while laughing; Her last words are "Start diggin', Trout." An angered Trout and his descendants then start to dig up the lake.

Stanley and Zero finally decide to go back to Camp Green Lake to investigate the hole where Stanley had found Kate's lipstick tube. The two dig up a rusty, old chest. Louise, Mr. Sir and Pendanski discover them and attempt to take it, until they notice yellow-spotted lizards climbing all over the boys. However, the lizards don't attack the boys due to the consumption of the onions, which repels them. This buys enough time for the Texas Assistant Attorney General, Stanley's lawyer, Carla Morengo, and two Texas Rangers to arrive and secure Stanley's release. During the wait, Louise reveals herself to be Trout Walker's granddaughter. He made her spend her childhood digging holes before he died, and she started the camp for troubled boys to continue the search for Kate's buried loot.

When Ms. Morengo berates Louise for the delaying, Louise asserts that the boys stole the chest from her office. Angered, Stanley comes out of the hole, with the lizards leaving him, and calls Louise a liar. Zero reveals that Stanley's name is written on the chest, a fact that shocks Louise. With this evidence, Ms. Morengo allows Stanley to take the chest home with him, despite Louise's objections. Stanley also convinces her to investigate Zero's file to secure Zero's release, forcing Louise to confess that she lost it, which incites a disgusted Assistant Attorney General into starting a state investigation of Camp Green Lake. One of the Texas Rangers recognizes Mr. Sir as an ex-criminal named Marion Sevillo, whom he busted for carrying a weapon in violation of his parole. When Louise claims she had no knowledge of this, Mr. Sir also quotes that she never admitted that Pendanski is not an actual doctor. The Assistant Attorney General declares Camp Green Lake under his jurisdiction and has Louise, Mr. Sir, and Pendanski charged with misprision of felony and perverting the course of justice, much to the other boys' delight. This allows Zero to leave with Stanley and Ms. Morengo. With Sam's spirit avenged, it finally rains, ending 100 years of drought.

The Yelnats family claim rightful ownership of the chest and give half of the money to Hector, who in turn uses his share to hire private investigators to find his missing mother. Some months later, a bus carrying Zero's mother arrives. The Yelnats move to a new house and live in financial comfort and Zero's family become the Yelnats' next-door neighbors. Following the arrests of Louise, Mr. Sir, and Pendanski, Camp Green Lake is shut down and later converted into a Girl Scouts camp. Stanley assures the girls and the counselors that they won't have to worry about the yellow-spotted lizards as long as they consume lots of good onions. Stanley's father invents a new odor eliminator "Sploosh" based on peaches and onions, promoted by Clyde and his wife on TV commercial, with the Yelnats and the Zeroni family watching them, finding success at last.

In the post-credits, Hector appears re-enacting the "You and your family will be cursed" quote from Madame Zeroni and the screen cuts to black.


Camp Green Lake
  • Shia LaBeouf as Stanley "Caveman" Yelnats IV
  • Khleo Thomas as Hector "Zero" Zeroni
  • Sigourney Weaver as Warden Louise Walker, the head of Camp Green Lake and granddaughter of Trout Walker.
  • Jon Voight as Mr. Sir, Warden Walker's assistant who is actually an ex-con named Marion Sevillo.
  • Tim Blake Nelson as Mr. Pendanski (or "Mom" as Tent D calls him), the counselor at Camp Green Lake.
  • Max Kasch as Ricky "Zigzag", a camper of Tent D.
  • Brenden Jefferson as Rex "X-Ray", a camper of Tent D.
  • Byron Cotton as Theodore "Armpit", a camper of Tent D.
  • Jake M. Smith as Alan "Squid", a camper of Tent D.
  • Miguel Castro as José "Magnet", a camper of Tent D.
  • Noah Poletiek as Brian "Twitch", a camper of Tent D.
  • Zane Holtz as Louis "Barf Bag", a camper of Tent D who was bitten by a rattlesnake at the beginning of the film.
The past
  • Patricia Arquette as Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow, a teacher-turned-outlaw.
  • Dulé Hill as Sam the Onion Man, an African-American onion vendor who was Katherine's love interest who got shot by Trout Walker
  • Eartha Kitt as Madame Zeroni, a psychic/sorceress who puts a curse on the Yelnats line starting with Elya over a broken contract he made with her when deciding to immigrate to America. She is also the great-great-great-grandmother of Hector "Zero" Zeroni.
  • Allan Kolman as Stanley Yelnats, Sr., the great-grandfather of Stanley Yelnats IV.
  • Damien Luvara as Elya Yelnats, the great-great-grandfather of Stanley Yelnats IV.
  • Scott Plank as Charles "Trout" Walker, a rich land owner who is the grandfather of Warden Louise Walker.
  • Allison Smith as Linda Walker (née Miller), the wife of Trout Walker who was one of Katherine Barlow's students.
  • Sanya Mateyas as Myra Menke
  • Ravil Isyanov as Morris Menke
  • Ken Davitian as Igor Barkov
  • Eric Pierpoint as Sheriff
  • Brian Peck as Townsman in Classroom
Supporting characters


Soundtrack album by Various
Released April 15, 2003
Label Walt Disney Records
  1. "Dig It" - D-Tent Boys
  2. "Keep'n It Real" - Shaggy
  3. "Mighty Fine Blues" - Eels
  4. "Honey" - Moby
  5. "I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday" - Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps
  6. "Just Like You" - Keb' Mo'
  7. "Everybody Pass Me By" - Pepe Deluxé
  8. "I Will Survive" - Stephanie Bentley
  9. "Shake 'Em On Down" - North Mississippi Allstars
  10. "Don't Give Up" - Eagle Eye Cherry
  11. "Happy Dayz" - Devin Thompson
  12. "Let's Make A Better World" - Dr. John
  13. "If Only" - Fiction Plane
  14. "Eyes Down" - Eels
  15. "Down To The Valley" - Little Axe


Box office[edit]

Holes grossed US$16,300,155 in its opening weekend, making #2 at the box office, behind Anger Management's second weekend.[2]

The film would move on to gross a domestic total of $67,406,173 and an additional $4 million in international revenue, totaling $71,406,573 at the box office against a $20 million budget, making the film a moderate financial success.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally positive reviews; it currently holds a 77% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus: "Faithful to its literary source, this is imaginative, intelligent family entertainment."[3] On Metacritic, which uses an average of critics' reviews, the film has a 71/100 rating, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]

Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote "Davis has always been a director with a strong visual sense, and the look of "Holes" has a noble, dusty loneliness. We feel we are actually in a limitless desert. The cinematographer, Stephen St. John, thinks big, and frames his shots for an epic feel that adds weight to the story. I walked in expecting a movie for thirteensomethings, and walked out feeling challenged and satisfied. Curious, how much more grown up and sophisticated "Holes" is than "Anger Management."[5]

Home media[edit]

The film was released to VHS and DVD on September 23, 2003. There are no plans for a Blu-ray release yet, but the film is on Netfilx.


External links[edit]