I will admit to having started in to Holes with almost no knowledge of the film. I had seen part of the preview once and had read no reviews or synopsis prior to entering the theater. This, by the way, is the way I like it. I'm one of those people who would prefer to see a movie completely without foreknowledge if at all possible. So, on to the review.
Imagine my surprise at walking in to a theater completely filled with kids. Yes, I should have known that this was an adaptation of a popular children's book of the same name (written by Louis Sachar), but as I mentioned, I'd done no research at all prior to seeing the film.
However, despite the much-too-young and much-much-too-talkative child behind and to my right, the movie was a lot of fun. And, as is often the case with movies aimed at kids, made a bit better by having an audience full of them in attendance (so that we adults could know when things were funny instead of just disgusting).
The plot revolves around a work camp for delinquent youths who are there to "build character", so that they are no longer a blight on society. Our hero is, of course, falsely accused of the crime that gets him sent to the camp.
What follows is a bizarre mix of social commentary, early teen hijinks, and classic buddy movie sub-plots. Probably the most astounding attribute is how tightly the plot points (and throw-away lines) are intertwined in the film. There is hardly a line that doesn't find its way back into the film either as a quote or a reference.
I would wholeheartedly encourage just about anybody to go see this film. There's little violence, and most of it is 1930's Western in nature (people do die, but there is no blood). The more sophisticated viewers will note some interesting commentary on racism, sloth, and perseverance, not to mention the many uses of onions.