Picks and Pans Review: Holes

UPDATED 04/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/28/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight
Critic's Choice

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Parents and chaperones sit through so many dopey family films, it's a treat when one comes along—like Shrek or Remember the Titans—that's as enjoyable, and nearly as involving, for older viewers as it is for kids. Holes easily makes the cut.

Call it The Shawshank Redemption for the junior set. Based on a popular, 1998 Newbery Medal-winning novel, Holes follows the character-building travails of adolescent hero Stanley Yelnats (LaBeouf, of the Disney Channel's Even Stevens) after he's dispatched—for a crime he didn't commit—to a brutal camp for juvenile delinquents in the Texas desert.

Holes is a solid adventure story, complete with 19th-century flashbacks involving a female bandit. It boasts hefty doses of humor; Voight and Tim Blake Nelson, playing bumbling guards, add valuable comic zip. The film also imparts worthy lessons on racial harmony and helping others, medicine that goes down easily. (PG)

BOTTOM LINE: Fine family fare

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