ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2003), PG
Analysis Date: April 17, 2003
CAP Score: 62 out of 100
CAP Influence Density: 0.69

MinMax: -79

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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.

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If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), PG -- A PG-13 PG.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Blue Rider Pictures, Chicago Pacific Entertainment, Green Lake Productions, Phoenix Pictures, Walden Media
Distribution (US): Buena Vista Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures
Director(s): Andrew Davis
Producer(s): Lowell D. Blank, Andrew Davis, Marty P. Ewing, Mike Medavoy, Louis Phillips, Teresa Tucker-Davies
Written by/Screenplay: Louis Sachar
Cinematography/Camera: Stephen St. John
Music: Joel McNeely
Film Editing: Thomas J. Nordberg, Jeffrey Wolf
Casting: Amanda Mackey Johnson, Cathy Sandrich
Production Design: Maher Ahmad
Art Direction: Andrew Max Cahn
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6, Granbury, Texas

Holes is a journey through a few weeks in the life of Stanley Yelnats IV involving at least three subplots. Based on a children's book, this tale takes the reader through about 100 years and four generations of the of Yelnats.

The first Stanley in the story, Stanley Yelnats I (Allan Kolman) was a man after a girl's hand in marriage. But the time period being the 19th century, young and trim Stanley ("Yelnats" is "Stanley" spelled backwards) must provide a large pig to the girl's father to out-do the pig owned by another man -- a slimy, grimy, greasy man -- also vying for the girl's hand in marriage. To do that, an old mystic Madame Zeroni (Eartha Kitt, the most singularly identifiable mystic face) told Stanley he had to take a pig she gave him up a mountain to a special water every day and the pig would grow bigger than the one owned by his competitor. Stanley did precisely that but in the end lost his hankerings for the young girl. But Madam Zeroni didn't give her help for free. Stanley failed to honor his commitment to Madam Zeroni so she laid a curse on the family forever and all eternity. The curse has been blamed for the misgivings the family has suffered through the years.

In another subplot, a 19th century school marm, Katherine Barlow (Patricia Arquette) and veggies peddler, Sam (Dule Hill) develop a verbotten relationship. Every day, Sam would row across Green Lake to the town to vend his veggies and peddle other items of commodity. Sam would amorously spy Kate then Kate would warmly notice Sam spying her until Sam fostered enough courage to introduce himself to Kate. Sam, being a good fix-it man, nearly rebuilt Kate's whole one-room school house because he fancied Kate that much. And Kate was very appreciative. So appreciative she did nothing to stop his kiss. Now, in accordance with the law of the time it was illegal for Sam to Kiss Kate but it was not illegal for Kate to kiss Sam. Go figure. After they were caught kissing, Sam was shot and killed by the sheriff (Eric Pierpoint) while Sam was rowing across Green Lake. 'Turns out the sheriff had amorous aims on Kate, too and was not afraid to force himself on her. Feeling mighty low at Sam being killed, Katherine 'Kate' Barlow shot the sheriff and planted a kiss on the dead sheriff's face. Kate then started a life of robbery and murder, kissing each of the men she killed. That is how school marm Kate Barlow became 'Kissing Kate' Barlow. Kate's reign of terror garnered her a rather large stash of stolen booty, or so it is thought. it was also thought that she stashed her booty in Green Lake.

A third subplot takes us back to the future. Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf) was clobbered with a pair of special sneakers as he walked under an overpass. The sneakers were donated to a children's benefit by sports star celebrity Clyde 'Sweet Feet' Livingston (Rick Fox). The shoes would have brought a lot of money to the children, but a street urchin felt he needed them more than the children. Upon hearing police sirens, the street urchin tossed them over the overpass railing and the shoes hit Stanley. So, the police falsely assumed Stanley stole the shoes, arrested him and Judge Austin Gorg (Michael Cavanaugh) sent Stanley to a boys teenage boot camp prison, Camp Green Lake. Camp Green Lake prison is the Green lake from last century but now all dried up.

Camp Green Lake prison is run by three dastardly slimes: Mr. Sir whose real name was Marion Sirvio (Jon Voight); Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) who was no doctor; Warden Walker (Sigourney Weaver). The boys had to dig holes in the dry lake bed 5 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep ... all day. Though the stated reason the boys had to dig all day was to build character, there was an ulterior motive to Warden Walker forcing the boys to dig. But I'll leave that up to you if you decide the findings we reveal for you in the Findings/Scoring section of this report are acceptable to your family.

The third subplot also involves Stanley Yelnats II (Henry Winkler) and Stanley Yelnats III (Nathan Davis), all living together with Stanley's mom (Siobhan Fallon, Edgar's wife in Men in Black. Stanley's father, Stanley and his father, Stanley (I just had to do that) form an antagonistic family as Stanley III tries to invent a foot odor cure.

One of the characters in the movie who in particular impressed me was one of Stanley's prison mates nicknamed Zero, short for Hector Zeroni (Khleo Thomas), great grandson of Madam Zeroni, a homeless lad whose mother and father were not to be found. There was something about his delivery that made him the most real of the characters in this children's fantasy.

There are several examples of strong friendship and friendship-building in this 114-minute movie. But unfortunately, the friendships were built as the result of criminal acts by the young. The friendships were more a forced camaraderie than chosen friendships due to the adversarial friction with the prison authorities.

It is sort of cool the way the writers tied the subplots together. If you watch it, note onions and peaches and the row boat. But please do read the listing in the Findings/Scoring section, the heart of the CAP analysis Model, before you decide whether to take your little one to see it.

Yes, there is teen rebellion in Holes. Justifiable rebellion, justified by nasty and meanie adults, of course, which is perfect to nurture and embolden rebellion in your own children [Is. 30:1; Matt. 18:10]. It is a children's story. And it won the Newberry award. Well, so did the children's infanticide book The Giver (1, 2). Also for your PG-aged kids' viewing pleasure are four uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, once by one of the adolescents [Col. 3:8], and numerous flippant uses of God's name in vain though none with the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. There are also two rather graphic murder scenes, one suicide, numerous bully tactics and locker room innuendo. And of course, in this day and age of fascination of writers of kids shows with body functions, fluids, and exudates, what would a PG movie be without flatulence? The false arrest and imprisonment can lead the young to think dangerously rebellious of law enforcement, police and the judicial system. Brutality, treachery and abuse of the teens [2Tim. 3:1-5] for evil gain [Hab. 2:9] was common. There were even lies, once to protect another from the consequences of his wrongdoing [Prov. 19:5]. And the episodes of cover-up to hide planned murder of teens is a little strong for the young [Rev. 22:15]. But we am not the judge of your family's entertainment diet. That is your call to make. We just tell you what is there so you can make an informed decision on your own whether a film is or is not fit for your family and apply His Word to some noted behaviors. The listing in the Findings/Scoring section is complete and should give you what you need to make your own informed decision about Holes.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Is. 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise [kataphroneo {kat-af-ron-eh'-o}: 1) to condemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of (which includes abuse)] not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it.]
  • 2Tim. 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
  • Hab. 2:9 Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
  • Prov. 19:5 A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.
  • Rev. 22:15 Outside [of Heaven] are the dogs, those [unforgiven] who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers,...

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.


    Holes (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • false arrest with false imprisonment
  • bully tactics, twice
  • firearm threats, repeatedly
  • armed robbery
  • mob revenge
  • fighting, repeatedly
  • physical/sexual assault o a woman by a sheriff
  • other assault
  • brutality to a teen
  • intimidation with brutality
  • dead bodies (murder victims), repeatedly
  • cover-up to make a teen disappear
  • car theft
  • vehicular assault
  • jailbreak, two counts
  • planning murder of teen, two counts
  • unsafe rock climbing by teens
  • rock climbing peril
  • theft
  • criminal cover-up
  • planning cover-up
  • minors in survival mode

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • intentionally allowing a rattlesnake bite (graphic) to get out of punishment
  • six uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, once by a teen
  • flatulence
  • rudeness to many
  • lies
  • murderess kissing the face of her victim
  • lie to protect others from the consequences of their wrong-doing
  • notable meanness
  • "I've been wishing I was dead for a long time" by a teen

    Sex/Homosexuality (S)
  • teen in underwear
  • sexual innuendo, repeatedly

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drunkenness
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)
  • belief in a curse
  • seeking the counsel of a fortune teller
  • "magic" spell
  • eleven uses of God's name in vain but all without the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • gunfire murder, non-graphic
  • gunfire murder, graphic
  • suicide by poisonous animal bite

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    NOTE: While the Summary/Commentary section of these reports is precisely that -- a summary in commentary format which can be and sometimes is subjective, the actual CAP Analysis Model (the Findings/Scoring section) makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse, for manufacture of justification for, or camouflaging of ignominious content or aberrant behavior or imagery with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme/plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example of behavior or thought from the sinful display or of the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. We make no attempt to quantify the "artistic" or "entertainment" value of a movie -- whether a movie has any positive value or "entertainment" value is up to mom/dad. The CAP analysis model is the only known set of tools available to parents and grandparents which give *them* the control they need, bypassing the opinion-based assessment of movies by others and defeating the deceit of those who would say anything to convince their parents otherwise. The model is completely objective to His Word. Our investigation standards are founded in the teachings and expectations of Jesus Christ. If a sinful behavior is portrayed, it is called sinful whether Hollywood tries to make it otherwise. That the sinful behavior is "justified" by some manufactured conditions does not soften nor erase the price of sin. Whether there is application of fantasy "justification" or "redemption" is up to mom/dad.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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