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
Release date
  • 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 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.


Stanley Yelnats IV is a good-hearted teenager born to a Texas family who have been cursed to be unlucky – a misfortune they blame on their ancestor Elya's failure to keep a promise to a fortune teller decades ago in Latvia. One day, Stanley is falsely arrested for stealing a pair of sneakers that were donated to charity by a famous baseball player. Upon conviction, Stanley decides to attend Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp, in lieu of serving his time in jail.

He arrives to find that the camp is a dried-up lake run by the Warden, Louise Walker, her assistants Mr. Sir, and camp counselor Dr. Kiowa Pendanski. Prisoners who are known by their nicknames – including Zero, Armpit, Zig-Zag, Squid, X-Ray, and Magnet – spend each day digging holes in the desert to "build character". The inmates are told that if they find anything interesting, they may earn a day off. After finding a golden lipstick tube initialed K.B. and a fossil, Stanley is accepted into the group and is given the nickname Caveman. The Warden is only interested in the lipstick tube and has the boys dig around the spot where X-Ray (who was given the tube by Stanley) claims to have found it. After several days of digging, they find nothing, and the Warden has them return to digging individual holes. After taking the blame 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 "KB" stands for Kate Barlow, a notorious outlaw from the past. Walker puts some rattlesnake venom nail polish onto her nails and scratches Mr. Sir's face, leaving discolored marks on his face. Walker then orders Stanley to return to his hole.

In a series of flashbacks, the history of Camp Green Lake is revealed: it was once a flourishing lakeside community. Katherine Barlow, a local schoolteacher, is involved in a love triangle with the wealthy Charles "Trout" Walker, who Kate rejects, and an African-American onion seller named Sam, who Kate loves. After seeing the couple kiss, Walker kills Sam and in retaliation, Kate kills the local sheriff and gains notoriety as a robber. With Sam dead, Green Lake dries up and the town is abandoned. Years later, the now bankrupt Walkers track down Kate and demand she hand over her treasure. Kate refuses and tells them to dig for the treasure, after which Kate dies from a poisonous lizard bite and the Walkers and their children set about digging for the treasure.

In the present, Stanley offers reading lessons to Zero, whose real name is Hector Zeroni. One day, Stanley and Zig-Zag get into a fight, which Hector starts chocking Zig-Zag. The Warden learns that Stanley is offering reading lessons and orders him to stop. Pendanski insults Hector and Hector responds by hitting Pendanski with a shovel and running into the desert. The Warden then demands that Hector's files be erased. After some deliberation, Stanley sets out to find Hector. The pair have difficulty surviving in the desert without water. Eventually, Stanley carries the now ill Hector up the mountain where they find a wild field of onions and a source of water, helping them regain strength; at the same time, Stanley unknowingly fulfills his ancestor's promise to the fortune teller, Madame Zeroni and breaks the curse. While camping on the mountain, Stanley discovers that Hector stole the sneakers and threw them over the bridge to evade the police.

Returning to the camp, Stanley and Hector investigate the hole where Stanley found the lipstick tube and discover a chest just as they are found by Walker, Mr. Sir, and Pendanski. Then poisonous lizards crawl out of the hole, leaving both the boys and the Warden in a bind. The next morning, the attorney general and Stanley's lawyer arrive, but the Warden accuses Stanley to be a thief, which angers him. Both boys crawl out of the hole unharmed. The Warden tries to take the chest, but Hector points out 'Stanley Yelnats' engraved on the chest. Walker; 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 their actions. Stanley and Zero are released and it rains in Green Lake for the first time in over 100 years. The Yelnats family claims ownership of the chest which contains jewels, deeds, and promissory notes, which they share with Hector. Hector uses the funds to hire a team of private investigators to locate his missing mother and both families live a life of financial ease as neighbors.



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]


Holes was filmed in California in the summer of 2002 and produced with a budget of $20 million.


2013 The Gaudio Foundation Award for "Best Send"

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]