Australian Council on Children and the Media

Holes

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Lang. Themes.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Holes
  • a review of Holes completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 September 2003.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Due to the level of violence and scariness in this film it is not suitable for children under 8.
Children aged 8-13 Children aged 8-13 would need parental guidance.
Children over the age of 13 Children over the age of 13 would probably be alright to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Holes
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Medium level violence, Adult themes
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Stanley Yelnats is in the wrong place at the wrong time: a pair of runners apparently falls out of the sky into his hands. The shoes belong to Livingston, a famous basketballer, who had donated them to a charity auction. Stanley is caught by the police and sent to Camp Green Lake, a detention centre for troubled youth. Camp Green Lake is nothing like the name sounds – it’s in the middle of a desert with no water for miles around. The ‘inmates’ all have nicknames and they set out to intimidate and bully Stanley. Stanley befriends a young boy called Zero who won’t speak to anyone but talks to Stanley.  The boys spend their days digging holes in the hot sun ostensibly to ‘build their character’. Stanley believes he is there because of a curse imposed on his great, great, grandfather which brings bad luck to the family, although he says he doesn’t believe in the curse. The curse was put on him by a Madame Zeroni who turns out to be Zero’s great, great, grandmother.

The story is quite complex and frequently travels back and forwards in time. Green Lake was originally a thriving town with a large inland lake. The local white school teacher, Kate Barlow, fell in love with a black man, Sam, which was considered to be an unforgivable crime. Sam is shot and killed for this liaison and Kate becomes ‘Kissin’ Kate Barlow’ an outlaw thief and killer who leaves her identifying mark as a kiss on her victims. The lake dries up and it hasn’t rained there since that day.

The plot continues to weave and unfold and eventually it becomes clear why the boys are digging holes in the desert all day long. Zero, whose real name is Hector, escapes from the camp and Stanley goes out to find him. Together they unravel all the clues and manage to reverse the curse on both Stanley’s family and Green Lake.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is quite a lot of pushing, shoving, intimidation and bullying at Camp Green Lake, as well as other violence in this film including the following scenes:

  • Theodore grabs Stanley by the neck and throws him to the ground
  • Mr. Sir shoots a Yellow Spotted Lizard
  • Sam is shot by townsmen
  • Kate Barlow shoots and kills the sheriff, holds up the banks, etc.
  • Mr. Sir grabs Zero by the throat and throws him to the ground
  • The warden hits Mr. Sir across the face with her nails which are coated in snake venom
  • Stanley gets into a fight with the other boys; Zero comes to his aid and nearly strangles Ricky
  • Zero hits the doctor with a shovel

 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

There are quite a few scary scenes in this movie. In addition to the above violent scenes, the following scenes would scare children in this age group:

  • a rattle snake strikes and kills a man.
  • Mr. Sir is a rough looking evil character.
  • Mr. Sir tells Stanley that if he tries to escape, the buzzards will eat his bones and that if he gets bitten by a Yellow Spotted Lizard he will die a slow and painful death.
  • Camp Green Lake is a filthy place, with slops for food and stained bed mattresses.
  • The boys having to dig holes all day in the hot sun with little water.
  • Madame Zeroni is a gypsy type of woman who appears quite scary especially when she says that the Yelnats family will be cursed for all eternity if they don’t do what she says.
  • Mr. Sir shoots a Yellow Spotted Lizard which then frills its neck out and screeches frighteningly.
  • Zero’s Mother would leave him sitting on a park bench while she worked and one day she doesn’t come back for him. Zero is abandoned and has no idea where his Mother is.
  • Stanley and Zero find the treasure but are then covered in Yellow Spotted Lizards who crawl out of the hole.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be frightened or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some of the above scenes would scare children in this age group as the danger and violence is quite realistic.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group should be able to cope with the level of violence in this movie.

Sexual references

None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern.

Use of substances

Mr. Sir and Madame Zeroni smoke. There is some drinking of alcohol.

Coarse language

None of concern.

In a nutshell

The take home message in this movie is that justice will eventually prevail and that good triumphs over evil.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • friendship
  • resilience
  • tolerance
  • empathy
  • endurance through adversity
  • racial harmony

Values parents may wish to discourage include:

  • bullying
  • intimidation
  • becoming famous by being an outlaw
  • racial intolerance

 

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