04-21-2003, 11:56 PM
In its ongoing effort to maintain relevance with today’s young moviegoers while trying to appeal to their parents, Walt Disney Pictures continues to pair talented filmmakers with compelling projects and while action director Andrew Davis (“The Fugitive”, “Under Siege”) is no David Lynch (who directed Disney’s “The Straight Story”), he does show a strong commitment to making his film the best it can be. “Holes” is based on Louis Sachar’s beloved children’s novel (he also wrote the screenplay) about Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBouef, a Disney Channel favorite), sent to a camp for wayward teenage boys forced to dig holes in the Texas desert as punishment (but, unbeknownst to them, really looking for a buried treasure for warden Sigourney Weaver). There’s a curse on the Yelnats family name that’s directly tied to the story, much of it told in hundred-year-old flashbacks concerning events in both Texas and Eastern Europe. For its target audience of adolescents, it’s a fairly convoluted plot but Davis and Sachar don’t condescend in their storytelling and there shouldn’t be any problems understanding it. Davis gets some entertainingly outsized performances from his adult actors—in addition to Weaver, there’s Eartha Kitt, Henry Winkler, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, the always welcome Siobhan Fallon and, most notably, a funny Jon Voight in a delightful bouffant wig—and the kids seem eager to prove their chops, particularly LaBouef, whose likeability stems from his subtle underplaying in the face of all the exaggeration. Recommended.