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Holes

By Tom Siebert | Posted

More like a bull's-eye. While this intriguing and intricately plotted family flick has all the elements that the "tween" and teen demographics love--secrets, mystery, poisonous lizards, plucky kids, dopey but lovable parents, evil authority figures, fate, and the supernatural--calling Holes a great family film sells it short. It's a satisfying movie for anybody, with the whiff of sleeper-turned-blockbuster and, better yet, potential classic. A good-hearted but perpetually unlucky teen (Shia LaBeouf) is wrongfully sent to a juvenile detention center in the middle of the desert, where the mysterious adults in charge (Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and Tim Blake Nelson, all broadly entertaining) make the boys dig dirt all day long. Meanwhile, a parallel plot from the century past tells of a doomed interracial romance between an angelic schoolmarm (Patricia Arquette) and a handsome handyman (Dule Hill). Halfway through, the dual stories start converging, ultimately tying up a half-dozen subplots in a sublime series of revelations and payoffs. Though the imprint says Disney, the ridiculously exaggerated situations and bizarre adult characters feel more like the best children's work of Roald Dahl; give MouseCorp kudos for allowing Louis Sachar to adapt his novel to screenplay and hiring an accomplished director in Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) instead of some low-priced hack.

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