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Ross Family Movie Challenge: 'Holes' vs 'Small Soldiers'

Phil Bray; Everett Collection

Every week EW’s Dalton Ross and his wife, writer Christina Kelly, have a…um, lively discussion about what movie they should watch with their two children (Dale, 12, and Violet, 9) that weekend. Now they make their cases publicly and you get to vote on the choices and decide how the Ross family will be spending part of their weekend. The power is in your hands, people. Last week, Dalton’s pick of ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ trounced Christina’s selection of ‘The Artist’. Will Christina be able to put a stop to her three-week losing streak? Read on and then vote for which movie they should watch this week.

Dalton’s Pick: Small Soldiers (1998)
My wife hates any movie having to do with explosions, military types, CGI, or toys (which she has now spent roughly half of the past 12 years of her life cleaning up). So it would seem downright rude of me to make this week’s pick Small Soldiers, a film that features all of these things in abundance. But it would also make me an awesome father because Small Soldiers rules! Okay, I don’t know about “rules,” but I do think Dale and Violet will love it. Why? Explosions, military types, CGI, and toys, of course.

The movie is kind of like if Toy Story turned to the dark side: A toy company uses military technology in its latest line of action figures to make them talk, but naturally it goes wrong as the Commando Elite line of soldiers wage war on the Gorgonites. Caught in the middle are a teenage Gregory Smith and Kirsten Dunst. Action. Adventure. Comedy. And the dark, twisted mind of director Joe Dante. It’s all here! But even if none of that appeals to you (ahem…Christina) there is one other big reason to watch Small Soldiers — it represents the last film appearance by the late, great Phil Hartman, possibly the funniest man ever.  How can you vote against that?

Christina’s Pick: Holes (2003)
I am not the type to willfully pick a film that I know will annoy my spouse. And, not to air my dirty laundry, but I must share that I am a little hurt and shocked that my husband is DELIBERATELY selecting a movie that he seems sure that I will hate — on this weekend of all weekends, my BIRTHDAY weekend.

That’s right, people, I am playing the birthday card. It’s my birthday! On Saturday! And I should get to pick whatever movie I want (which, if I could order it up, would be a period drama set in Paris, directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Hugh Grant, with a soundtrack incongruously featuring  early ’90s Matador/Lollapalooza bands, Edith Piaf, and The Chieftains).

However, I have selflessly come up with a movie that the entire family will enjoy. Holes is based on the Newberry-award winning young adult novel by Louis Sachar, who also wrote the screenplay. Dale read and liked the book. I have not seen Holes, nor read the book, but it was very well-reviewed. This comic adventure story features Shia LeBeouf as a teenage boy who is wrongly accused of stealing some expensive sneakers. He is sent to a juvenile camp where the inmates are forced to dig holes every day, and there is some sort of a mystery behind the punishment. As you can see, this description is far from MY personal movie ideal, but I am choosing a film that’s right for the entire family here. The cast includes Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver and Eartha Kitt.

Remember, a vote for Holes is a vote for the birthday girl.



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