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Holes (film)

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 $71,406,573[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 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 produced by Walden Media and distributed in many markets by Disney's distribution company Buena Vista.

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


Stanley Yelnats the 4th 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. 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 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 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.

In a series of flashbacks the history of Camp Green Lake is revealed. The town was a lake town, thriving with water and life until Katherine Barlow, a local teacher, was involved in a love triangle with the wealthy Trout Walker, whom Kate rejected, and an African American onion seller named Sam, whom Kate loved. One day she ended up kissing Sam. At that time, it was illegal for African American males to be intimate with Caucasian females. After much turmoil, a group of men from the town, including Walker, kills Sam while he is rowing his boat. Kate kills the local sheriff in retaliation and becomes an outlaw. Sam's death causes the Green Lake to turn into an arid wasteland. Years later the now bankrupt Walkers approach the outlaw Kate and demand she hand over her buried treasure, but Kate responds that they could "dig for a hundred years" and not find it. Kate allows a yellow spotted lizard to bite her killing her within minutes. Before she allows the lizard to bite her she says in a resentful tone, "Start digging, Trout". For the next generation the Walker family sets about digging for the treasure but never actually find anything.

While digging one day, Pendanski insults Zero, who responds by hitting Pendanski with a shovel and running into the desert. Stanley goes searching for Zero. Stanley and Zero survive in the arid wasteland. Eventually Stanley carries the now ill Zero up the mountain, 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 promise to the fortune teller, breaking the curse, and restoring his family's luck.

Suddenly feeling lucky, Stanley and Zero decide to return to the camp and investigate the hole where Stanley found the lipstick, where they dig deeper and uncover a chest just as they are discovered by the warden, Mr. Sir, and Pendanski. After escaping Walker, with the help of some lizards, it's revealed that she is Trout's granddaughter and using the inmates to search for treasure. The next morning, the attorney general and Stanley's lawyer arrive, the chest Stanley found is revealed to have belonged to his great-grandfather before being stolen by "Kissin' Kate". The warden, Mr. Sir (who turns out to be a paroled criminal named Marion Sevillo), and Pendanski (who, as it turned out, was 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, rain returns to Green Lake. The Yelnats family claims ownership of the chest, which contains jewels, old money, deeds, and promissory notes, which they share with Zero, who reunites with his missing mother. Camp Green Lake was closed and Stanley and his friends heard it was supposed to reopen as a Girl Scout camp. The Yelnatses and the Zeronis move to new houses along with their friends, and Clyde Livingston apologizes to Stanley for accusing him of stealing the shoes.



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


Box office

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]

Critical response

The film received positive reviews. 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]


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