While many films stand the test of time, others fade into obscurity. Whether this happens over a period of years or almost instantly upon a film’s release, each of these titles have slipped through the cracks of our collective memory to join the ranks of the Films That Time Forgot.
Based on the 1998 novel by Louis Sachar, Holes is a family friendly neo-Western comedy-drama that’s far better than it has any right to be. Sachar himself returned to write the screenplay, which certainly helps keep the film’s narrative cohesive, but Holes is a film that comes together beautifully to make for quality entertainment. How is it then that it remains a somewhat obscure title lost among Disney’s back catalogue of live-action ’00s films?
Starring a young Shia LaBeouf in his film debut, Holes tells the story of Stanley Yelnats IV, a young boy who blames a family curse for his constant misfortune. When that bad luck sees Stanley sent to a work camp for a crime he didn’t commit, he unwittingly finds himself in the position to lift the curse and solve a century-old mystery.
LaBeouf appears alongside an ensemble cast including Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Patricia Arquette, Tim Blake Nelson, Henry Winkler, Dulé Hill, Rick Fox, and Siobhan Fallon Hogan, and with so many famous faces, it’s hard to believe that Holes hasn’t stuck around in our collective memory. It’s not just the film’s cast that should make it memorable, though.
Holes‘ story is one that twists in an out of the present day, with Stanley’s story intertwined with that of Camp Green Lake and 19th century outlaw Katherine “Kissin’ Kate” Barlow. Its desert setting allows for some visually arresting locales, making Holes both narratively engaging and aesthetically intriguing.
Owing mostly to Sachar’s writing, Holes is filled with small, clever moments of foreshadowing and seemingly throwaway lines that become far more significant upon rewatching. This allows for its story to come to neat, logical, and satisfying conclusion, also making it a film with high rewatch value.
Against a $20 million budget, Holes earned $71.4 million at the box office. While this only made the film a moderate box office success, its cast, story, and skewing towards family audiences should have cemented Holes a place in the hearts and minds of audiences, but it simply didn’t land as it should have.
This is a shame, because Holes offers an experience that’s entertaining for the whole family, and it’s a genuinely and objectively good film. Critical response to Holes at the time of release was good, too – Roger Ebert even gave it 3.5 of four stars – which makes its gentle fade into obscurity all the more undeserved.
Holes being all but forgotten could perhaps be the work of a curse similar to that in the film, although admittedly, it’s more than likely just bad luck for a good film.
Summary: A family adventure akin to a much dustier version of The Goonies, Holes is an unforgettable film that’s somehow been forgotten.
Highlights: Small lines of seemingly inconsequential dialogue that turn out to be plot points in diguise makes Holes a rewarding film to rewatch even almost two decades after its release.