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
Music by Joel McNeely
Cinematography Jen Fingfing
Edited by
  • Thomas J. Nordberg
  • Jeffrey Wolf
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release dates
  • April 18, 2003 (2003-04-18) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $71.4 million[1]

Holes is a 2003 American adventure comedy-drama film directed by Andrew Davis, produced by Lowell D. Blank, Mike Medavoy and Teresa Tucker-Davies with music by Joel McNeely and based on the 1998 eponymous novel by Louis Sachar (who also wrote the screenplay). The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson and Shia LaBeouf. The film was co-produced by Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures and distributed in many markets by Disney's distribution company Buena Vista.

Holes was filmed in California and produced on a budget of $20 million. Holes was released in the United States on April 18, 2003 and earned $71.4 million worldwide[1] It was later released on DVD and VHS on September 23, 2003 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Home Entertainment.


Teenager Stanley Yelnats IV lives in Texas with his destitute family, who have been cursed with misfortune for centuries. His ancestor Elya broke a promise to fortune teller Madame Zeroni. The family had potential for a greater livelihood until Stanley's great grandfather was robbed by Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow, a schoolteacher-turned-criminal. One day, Stanley is falsely accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and is convicted. He decides to attend Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, in lieu of serving a jail sentence.

He arrives to find that the camp is situated on a dried-up lake. The camp is run by its warden, Louise Walker, her assistant Mr. Sir, and camp counsellor Dr. Kiowa Pendanski. The inmates spend each day digging holes in the lakebed to "build character," and may earn a day off if they find anything interesting or unusual. Stanley is eventually accepted into his tent group and is given the nickname "Caveman" by them. Later, Stanley finds a golden lipstick tube in his hole with the initials "KB" engraved on it. He gives the tube to his group's leader X-Ray, who in turn gets a day off. On Walker's orders, the group enlarges the hole which X-Ray had dug, but they find nothing and eventually resume digging individual holes. Later, after taking responsibility for fellow group member Magnet stealing Mr. Sir's sunflower seeds, Stanley is taken to Walker's house where old wanted posters and newspapers lead him to suspect that "K.B." stands for Kate Barlow.

In a series of flashbacks, Camp Green Lake is a flourishing lakeside community in 1888. Kate falls in love with an African American onion seller named Sam, who helps rebuild Kate's schoolhouse. When Charles "Trout" Walker, the town's wealthiest man whose advances are rejected by Kate, becomes jealous of Kate and Sam's relationship, he destroys the schoolhouse and Sam's onion stand. Kate seeks the help of the town's sheriff, who is drunk in preparation for Sam's public hanging. He demands a kiss, but she refuses. Attempting to escape, Sam is killed by Charles. In response, Kate kills the sheriff and leaves a lipstick imprint on his cheek. As Kate commits robberies of local banks and stagecoaches, Green Lake dries up and the town is abandoned. In 1908, the now-bankrupt Walkers track down Kate and attempt to force her into revealing the buried treasure's location, but Kate refuses and tells them to dig for the treasure. A yellow-spotted lizard bites Kate and as she dies, she taunts the Walkers to "start digging". For the next century, the Walkers unsuccessfully dig for the treasure.

In the present, Zigzag fights Stanley out of jealousy when he realizes that in exchange for reading and writing lessons, Stanley's friend Hector "Zero" Zeroni assists Stanley in digging holes. Pendanski mocks Zero, but he attacks Pendanski and runs off. Stanley later finds Zero, who survives by using Sam's sunken boat as shelter and Kate's peaches for nourishment. When Zero refuses to return to the camp, Stanley discovers a mountain called "Gods Thumb" in the distance and remembers how his great-grandfather survived in the desert by climbing that mountain after Kate left him for dead. Stanley helps carry an ill Zero up God's Thumb, where they find a wild field of onions which actually belonged to Sam, and a nearby spring, regaining their strength and unknowingly fulfilling his ancestor's vow to Zero's ancestor to carry a Zeroni family member up the mountain, breaking the curse and restoring his family's luck. Meanwhile, his father discovers that peaches and onions remove foot odor, something he has spent years trying to solve.

On the mountain, Zero reveals that he stole the sneakers which led to Stanley's capture. Vowing to dig one final hole, Stanley and Zero return to the camp and investigate the hole where Stanley found the lipstick tube. They eventually uncover a chest, but are discovered by Walker and Mr. Sir. After they escape from Walker with the help of some of the yellow-spotted lizards, it is revealed that Walker is Charles's granddaughter, and she has had the inmates digging holes for several years in order to search for the treasure she believes belongs to Charles. The next morning, the Texas attorney general and Stanley's lawyer arrive, and the chest Stanley found is revealed to have belonged to his great-grandfather. Walker; Mr. Sir, who is revealed to be a paroled criminal named Marion Sevillo; and Pendanski, who is a criminal impersonating a doctor; are sent to jail. Stanley and Zero are released and rain returns to Green Lake for the first time in over 100 years. The Yelnats family claims ownership of the chest which contains jewels, old money, deeds and promissory notes which they evenly share with Zero. Zero reunites with his missing mother, Camp Green Lake is closed, and the Yelnats and the Zeronis move to new neighboring houses.



The film was released theatrically on April 18, 2003 by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution and was released on DVD and VHS on September 23, 2003 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Walt Disney Home Entertainment.


The film's music which included the Grammy winning single "Just Like You" by Keb Mo', and "Dig It" by The D Tent Boys (the actors portraying the D Tent group inmates), which had a music video which played regularly on Disney Channel. The soundtrack also included contributions by Eels, Devin Thompson, Dr. John, Eagle Eye Cherry, Fiction Plane, Little Axe, Moby, North Mississippi Allstars, Pepe Deluxé, Shaggy, Stephanie Bentley, and Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps. The score was composed and conducted by Joel McNeely.

Holes (Original Soundtrack)
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 $16.3 million in its opening weekend, finishing #2 at the box office behind Anger Management's second weekend.[2] The film would go on to gross a domestic total of $67.4 million and an additional $4 million in international revenue, totaling $71.4 million at the box office, against a $20 million budget, making the film a moderate financial success.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 77% based on 133 reviews, with the site's consensus reading: "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 out of 100 rating, based on 28 critics, 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]


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2002 COLA Production Company of the Year - Features Green Lake Productions Won
2003 COLA Location Professional of the Year - Features Mark Benton Johnson (Shared with S.W.A.T.) Won
Artios Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy Amanda Mackey Johnson and Cathy Sandrich Nominated
2004 Critics Choice Award Best Family Film - Live Action Nominated
Sierra Award Best Family Film Won
MTV Movie Award Breakthrough Male Performance Shia LaBeouf Nominated
PFCS Award Best Live Action Family Film and Best Performance by a Youth in a Lead or Supporting Role - Male Nominated
Young Artist Award Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading and Supporting Young Actor and Best Family Feature Film - Drama Shia LaBeouf, Noah Poletiek and Khleo Thomas Nominated


External links[edit]