This week, Louis Sacher's thrilling book, winner of the Newbery award, is number one on The New York Times bestseller list for children's paperback books. It has been on the list for 99 weeks. Now, Walt Disney has made a live action film based on Sacher's novel.
Holes is directed by Andrew Davis, who has made other action adventure movies like Under Siege and Collateral Damage. He also directed The Fugitive, which won Tommy Lee Jones an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Holes has a big star cast, including Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette and Shia LaBeouf -- star of the Disney Channel show Even Stevens. Well-known LA Lakers player Rick Fox makes a guest appearance in the film.
Holes has a very interesting story. Stanley Yelnats is an average sixth grader living in Austin, Texas. He runs into a lot of bad luck because of his 'no-good, dirty-rotten, pig-stealing grandfather.' One day, a pair of shoes falls from the sky and he catches them. Stanley starts to run as the cops chase him. He gets caught and is sent to a reform camp called Camp Green Lake.
The camp is located in a desert, where the kids have to dig a hole a day. It is supposed to make them better human beings. At the camp, Stanley becomes close to a bunch of other kids. They all have nicknames like X-ray, Zigzag, Squid, Armpit, Zero, Magnet, Mr Sir (Voight), the warden (Weaver)
Stanley is nicknamed Caveman. He becomes close to Zero when he learns Zero cannot read or write. Stanley teaches him, but the camp's councillors think Zero is stupid. A frustrated Zero runs away.
Stanley goes into the desert looking for him. The adventure continues, with the boys surviving on water and onions. There are other details about digging more holes, a box of jewellery, poisonous yellow spotted desert lizards and the history of Kissing Kate Barlow (Arquette) -- a nice school teacher who became a bandit.
The story also has flashbacks of Stanley's ancestors in Europe and the curse on the family by Madame Zeroni, an old black woman. Madame Zeroni is played by Eartha Kitt, who is the voice of Cat Woman in New York City's cabs, reminding passengers to wear their seat belts.
But, as is expected from Disney films and books for sixth graders, Holes has a happy ending. Zero, who was homeless at the beginning of the film, finds his missing mother. Stanley and his family become rich and the curse on them is lifted.
The movie has some great acting, with funny performances by the teenage kids. The older stars, Jon Voight and Sigourney Weaver, are also fun to watch, especially when they are defeated by the kids. Hero has beautiful cinematography, especially the shots of miles and miles of holes in a hot desert.
It is faithful to the original story, but I'd still recommend the book because nothing can take away the magic of reading. Maybe, it's a good idea to read the book first to see how fantastic Louis Sacher's story is.
Ishan Chhabra is a sixth grader at New York City's United Nations International School