I saw the new Disney film Holes last night. The film is directed by Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) and written by Louis Sachar based on his book. I’m kind of out of the loop of kids literature these days, but I understand from the production notes, that Holes was a huge hit in book form. Clearly the pre-teens with whom the studio packed the press screening, were very excited. Every time a new character was introduced, they got all excited the way people do whenever the movies flesh out a beloved literary character.
Set in a desert reform school for boys, the story is actually pretty fun and sweet. I think its appeal to kids can be understood as an attraction for the vision of community — even if imperfect — that the film follows in the group of boys in Tent D. Belonging to a loving or at least stable community is the most compelling fantasy for young people today, and is the real draw behind the spate of supernatural projects that kids have been flocking to in the last few years. (I wrote about this in relation to Harry Potter here.) From a literary standpoint, the story works because of the endless, absurd loose ends, which the author succeeds in bringing all together as lynchpins to the final resolution of the story. It is clever, and original in many respects.
This will be a fun film for kids from about 8 to 13. Parents who accompany their kids to the theater will not die, and may actually have a moderately good time.