Based on Louis Sachar's bestselling novel for young readers, the new movie Holes brings to life the adventures of Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf), a troubled teen whose palindrome name is not the only thing that makes him unique.

Stanley is the son of an oddball visionary (Henry Winkler) determined to discover the cure for foot odor. The cure has proven elusive, but that is par for the course. The Yelnats are the latest generation to suffer under a long-running "family curse" that prevents them from succeeding at anything. Thus there is a strange irony in the fact that the family's latest misfortune—Stanley's arrest and conviction—involves a stolen pair of shoes.

Although innocent, Stanley is sentenced to 18 months at a reform camp in the desert. There, he joins a crowd of unruly youngsters in the unpleasant business of digging holes under the supervision of a cruel taskmaster (Jon Voight), a counselor with a mean streak (Tim Blake Nelson), and a mysterious warden (Sigourney Weaver). During his trials he befriends another laborer, "Zero" (Khleo Thomas), and the two help each other through trials, a desperate unplanned escape, and a mystery that involves stories of their ancestors.

Director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) has taken Sachar's Newberry and National Book Award-winning story and transformed it into one of the most complex, challenging, and entertaining films for young audiences we have seen in years.

Watching it, I was reminded of such audience favorites as October Sky, The Princess Bride, and Stand by Me. It moves through a variety of different tones, from the Willy Wonka quirkiness of Stanley's family, to the fairy-tale adventures in the Old West flashbacks, to the heartfelt exchanges between Stanley and Zero during ...

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