If I had had any doubts about HOLES being one of the big summer films of 2003, they were all put to rest by the audience reaction the film and its makers received at one of the two press screenings that I went to. The audience was packed with kids of all ages who adored Louis Sachar’s novel of the same name as much, or according to some polls, more than even the Harry Potter series. They gave the film their rapt attention with nary a squirm to be seen from any of them and a huge outpouring of applause afterwards from both the little ones and their parents. Here is a film that may be aimed at kids, but certainly isn’t kid stuff, which is the first thing I brought up to Sachar and the film’s director, Andy Davis, when I interviewed them on April 4, 2003.
Sachar, who adapted his own book, had to leave partway through our chat in order to do a book-signing. My loss was the gain of the hundreds of kids who turned out for it, as they do whenever he makes an appearance. It gave me a chance, though, to talk with Davis about some of the more technical aspects of bringing the novel to life, as well as finally putting to rest the rumor that he will be directing UNDER SIEGE 3.
There is an attitude among some filmmakers that children’s films should be anything but sophisticated, rather, they should be simple in theme and execution and excruciating for anyone over the age of five. Not just the flicks for little kids, either, as evidenced by such recent mush as WHAT A GIRL WANTS. And for those filmmakers there is a special room set aside for them in hell. Such is, blissfully, not the case with HOLES.
Based on the novel of the same name by Louis Sachar, a book that has topped Harry Potter in some reader’s polls of favorite books, HOLES is a darkly enchanting fairy tale brought to the screen with artistry and grace. Sachar, who also wrote the screenplay has taken a suitably circular approach to his storytelling, taking three stories set in three different times and telling them concentrically, if you will. With a delicious mastery of the art of storytelling that renders the narrative deceptively simple, Sachar has one narrative effortlessly filling in the gaps in another until by the end serendipity has given way to destiny.