- "They're sent to a detention camp to dig holes and build character, but what are they really digging for?"
- -Netflix description on the film
Holes is a 2003 adventure comedy-drama film based on the novel of the same title by Louis Sachar (who also wrote the screenplay) with Shia LaBeouf as the lead role of Stanley Yelnats and also starting Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson, Eartha Kitt, Patricia Arquette, Dulé Hill, Rick Fox, and Henry Winkler as Stanley Yelnats III.
The film is based on a boy who goes to a hole-digging detention camp after being accused of stealing a pair of shoes from a famed baseball player. While at the camp, he meets various people, who later becomes their friend. The film was produced by Walden Media and released by Walt Disney Pictures.
Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf) is a kind-hearted teenager born to an unfortunate family that has been cursed for years. The luckiest of the Yelnats ancestors, Stanley Yelnats I (Allen Kolman), lost his fortune when the outlaw Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow stole his chest. The Yelnats blame their ancestor, Elya Yelnats, from Latvia, who was cursed after breaking a promise to Madame Zeroni to carry her up a mountain to a fortifying river in exchange for marrying Myra Menke.
Stanley's father has been trying to find the right formula to eliminate foot odors. One day, Stanley is falsely arrested and convicted for stealing a pair of sneakers that Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston, a famous baseball player, had donated to charity. Stanley decides to attend Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention camp instead of being incarcerated for his crime. He arrives to find that the "camp" is a dried-up lake run by Warden Walker, her assistant Mr. Sir, and camp counselor Dr. Pendanski. Each day, the detainees must dig a five-foot round hole in the desert to "build character", despite the danger of the sun, rattlesnakes, and yellow-spotted geckos, which can kill with a single bite. The inmates are told that if they find anything interesting, they may earn a day off. The inmates are known by their nicknames, and include Zero (for not being able to read), Armpit (for his body odor), Zig-Zag (for walking back and forth), Squid (for his squinty eyes), X-Ray (for his large glasses), and Magnet (who is able to shoplift just about anything). Stanley is slowly accepted into the group, especially after allowing X-Ray to take credit for his discovery of a lipstick tube with the initials "KB", and is given the name of "Caveman" after finding a fossil. He soon creates a friendship with Zero, (later revealed to be Hector Zeroni) while teaching him to read. One day, Stanley sees Magnet steal Mr. Sir's sunflower seeds, and after Mr. Sir comes back, Stanley takes blame for stealing it. Mr. Sir takes Stanley to the Warden, who makes nail polish from rattlesnake venom. She hits Mr. Sir after he says Stanley is probably covering for Magnet, injuring him. In revenge and humiliation, Mr. Sir denies Stanley any water.
In a parallel flashback story, the history of Camp Green Lake is revealed. The town was once called Green Lake one hundred and ten years ago with plenty of water and life. Kate Barlow, a local school teacher, is accosted by rich landowner Trout Walker, who proposes to her, but she rejects him. Kate is in love with the local onion seller Sam, a black man, who helps repair her schoolhouse in exchange for Kate's renowned spiced peaches. When Sam kisses Kate, the townspeople burn the school. Sam attempts to escape on his boat, the 'Mary Lou', but Trout kills Sam. In retaliation, Kate kills the local sheriff and leaves a lipstick mark on his face, thereby beginning her career as an outlaw named "Kissin' Kate" who famously kisses every man she kills.
After Pendanski insults Hector, he retaliates by hitting him with his shovel and runs away. After some deliberation, Stanley sets out to help him and finds him taking shelter under the remains of Sam's boat, the 'Mary Lou'. Zero, now stranded in the desert, offers him some "sploosh", old cans of Kate Barlow's spiced peaches which had been left on the boat. The sploosh helped Hector survive (even though it made him sick), and out of desperation Stanley heads over to a mountain, called "God's Thumb", remembering that Stanley Yelnats I had survived many days in the dryness by seeking refuge on the mountain. Meanwhile, Walker decides to presume Hector dead by deleting his files. Zero faints from lack of water leaving Stanley having to carry him up the mountain where they find an apparently wild field of onions and a source of muddy water, helping them regain strength for several days. Unknowingly, Stanley breaks the family curse because Hector happens to be related to Madame Zeroni. When he carries Hector to the top of the mountain, he sings to him and lets him drink from the stream that runs uphill, he fulfills the promise made by Elya centuries earlier.
Moments later, after Hector has woken up, he reveals he is the reason Stanley was sent to Camp Green Lake. He reveals that since he is homeless, he had been at the homeless shelter where many things, including Sweetfeet's shoes, had been donated. Because he did not know the shoes were famous, he took them and walked off with them. He then heard sirens coming and thaught they were after him, he took off the shoes and tossed them over the bridge leading to the incident which got Stanley sent to Camp Green Lake, as the shoes had fallen on Stanley's head, which was the beginning of the movie. Stanley then thinks it is destiny that they met.
In another flashback, an older Kate Barlow is found in the middle of the now dried-up lake by one of her former students along with Trout Walker (whom the student has married). They order Kate at gunpoint to hand over the treasure, but she tells them that they "can dig for a hundred years, and you will never find it." Kate commits suicide by allowing a yellow-spotted geckos to bite her on her wrist and dies laughing. Stanley and Zero finally decide to go back to Camp Green Lake to investigate the hole where Stanley had found the tube of lipstick. Feeling lucky all of a sudden, they dig deeper and deeper into the hole and uncover a rusty old chest. Walker, Mr. Sir and Pendanski discover them and attempt to take the chest away from Stanley and Zero until they notice that yellow-spotted geckos are climbing all over the boys. When the group is discovered the next morning by the Attorney General and Stanley's lawyer, Walker says the boys stole the chest from her office and ran out in the lake. Enraged by her horrible lie, Stanley climbs out of the hole along with Hector to confront her; they are still alive due to the fact that yellow-spotted geckos are averse to the onions they had been eating. Hector points at the chest and tells them that "Stanley Yelnats" is written on the front of the chest. The lawyer finds out that there is no file of Hector and Mr. Sir's possession of a gun. Mr. Sir (revealed to be a criminal named Marion Sevillo), Warden Walker, and Pendanski (revealed to be no doctor at all) are arrested. As Stanley leaves, the rain falls on Camp Green Lake and the boys celebrate. The Yelnats family claim rightful ownership of the chest and the contents inside — banknotes, money, and other golden treasures, all of whose value has increased over time. Stanley decides that half the money should go to Hector.
Stanley's father finally finds the solution to an odor-eliminating mixture that he has been trying all his life to create — the addition of peaches and onions. Later, Stanley's family gains riches from both the contents of his grandfather's chest and his father's new odor-eliminating invention, Sploosh, and they help Hector find his mother by hiring private detectives. Camp Green Lake has been converted into a girl scout camp as well.