If the law required kids' movies to be simple enough for nippers to get the gist of them in a single sentence, Holes would be looking at a long stretch behind bars.
That probably means that a whole swathe of pre-teens aren't going to catch up with this unusual entry in Disney's catalogue - a shame since it's an entertaining little romp that refuses to patronise its ankle-biting audience.
Adapted by Nobel Prize winner Louis Sachar from his bestselling children's novel, Holes tells the story of Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) wrongly sent to a cruel desert prison for juvenile offenders. Along with his fellow inmates, Stanley is made to shovel sand under the watchful eye of Mr Sir (Jon Voight) and The Warden (Sigourney Weaver), while dodging the local poisonous lizards.
"SHE'S SEARCHING FOR BURIED TREASURE"
"You take a bad boy and make him dig holes all day in the hot sun, it turns him into a good boy" growls Sir when Stanley asks what the purpose of their punishment is. It's a lie. The Warden isn't interested in rehabilitation; she's searching for buried treasure.
Biting off more than it can chew, Holes is an ambitious attempt to remain faithful to Sachar's convoluted novel. The plot flits back and forth between Stanley's family history in 18th century Latvia, an interracial romance in the Wild West, and the hole digging adventures in the present.
"ENOUGH WIT AND WISDOM"
As a result, what should have been a simple set-up turns into a four-course meal of plot exposition that's likely to send some kids bolting for the nearest exit. Yet, for those who can sit still, Holes has enough wit and wisdom to be an entertaining alternative to the effects-heavy world of Harry Potter's Hogwarts.