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 Stephen St. John
Edited by
  • Thomas J. Nordberg
  • Jeffrey Wolf
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution (US)
Release dates
  • April 18, 2003 (2003-04-18) (US)
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), with Shia LaBeouf as the lead role of Stanley Yelnats IV 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 co-produced by Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures and distributed in many markets by Disney's distribution company Buena Vista. Holes earned $71.4 million[1] on a $20 million budget. 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.


Stanley Yelnats IV is a teenager born to a family who have been cursed with bad luck. 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 a dried-up lake run by the Warden, Louise Walker, her assistant Mr. Sir, and camp counselor Dr. Pendanski. Prisoners spend each day digging holes in the desert to "build character." The inmates are told that they may earn a day off, if they find anything interesting or unusual. After finding a golden lipstick tube initialed K.B. and a fossil, Stanley is accepted into the group and is given the nickname "Caveman." After taking responsibility for Magnet's stealing of Mr. Sir's sunflower seeds, Stanley is taken to the warden's house where old wanted posters and newspapers lead him to suspect that "K.B." stands for Kate Barlow.

In a series of flashbacks the history of Camp Green Lake is revealed. It is originally a lake town, thriving with water and life until Katherine Barlow, a local teacher, gets involved in a love triangle with the wealthy Trout Walker, whom Kate rejects, and an African American onion seller named Sam, who Kate loves. Sam helps rebuild Kate's schoolhouse and becomes closer to her. One day she kisses Sam despite the town's segregation laws. After much turmoil, a group of men from the Green Lake, led by Walker, burn the schoolhouse, along with Sam's onion stand, and kill his donkey Mary Lou. In desperation, Kate seeks the help of the local sheriff, who is drunk in preparation for the hanging of Sam for his crimes. After witnessing the death of Sam at the hands of Walker, Kate kills the sheriff in retaliation and becomes an outlaw. Sam's death causes the Green Lake to turn into an arid wasteland, implied to be divine punishment which leads to the desertion of the town and financial ruin of Walker and his family. Years later, the now bankrupt Walkers approach Kate and demand she hand over her buried treasure, but Kate responds that they could "dig for a hundred years" and not find it. She tells Walker to "start digging," then grabs a highly venomous yellow-spotted lizard with her bare hands and lets it bite her, causing her to die within minutes. For over a century, the Walker family dig for the treasure, finding nothing.

While digging one day, Pendanski mocks Zero, who responds by hitting Pendanski with a shovel and running into the desert. Stanley pursues and carries Zero up a mountain called "God's Thumb", where they find a wild field of onions and a spring, helping them regain strength and at the same time unknowingly fulfilling his ancestor's vow to the fortune teller Madame Zeroni (who is Zero's ancestor), to carry a member of the Zeroni family up the mountain and allow them to drink from the stream while singing to them, thus breaking the curse, and restoring his family's luck.

Stanley and Zero decide to return to the camp and investigate the hole where Stanley found the lipstick. Digging deeper, they uncover a chest, but are immediately discovered by Walker and Mr. Sir. After they escape from Walker with the help of some lizards, it is revealed that Walker is Trout's granddaughter and for several years now, she has used the inmates to search for the treasure. The next morning, the Texas attorney general and Stanley's lawyer arrive, the chest Stanley found is revealed to have belonged to his great-grandfather before being stolen by Kate. The warden, Mr. Sir (who is revealed to be a paroled criminal named Marion Sevillo), and Pendanski (who is a criminal impersonating a doctor) are arrested for perverting the laws of justice. Stanley and Zero are released from the now-under-investigation camp. With justice finally being served for Sam, 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 along with their friends.



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 written 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

Critical reception and 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 go 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]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 77% based on 133 reviews, with the site's 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 based on 28 reviews, 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]


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