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* SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic: Fiction Plane's "If Only," which takes one of the many, many plot points that made the book so memorable and turns it into a gorgeous {{alternative rock}} ballad.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment:
** The movie has an early {{Foreshadowing}} scene where Stanley sees the ghosts of Sam and Mary Lou while his bus passes through the desert. Stanley never even learns who they are and this event is never mentioned again.
** Right after Stanley turns down Zero's request to teach him how to read, Armpit swaggers out of the Wreck Room and starts dancing. The music even sounds like it's going to lead into a sudden all-camp coordinated dance, but it ends abruptly soon after Armpit raises his, well, armpits.
* EarWorm:
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXcnGJy0kmA&t=7s Dig it, oh-oh-ooh, dig it!]]
** "If Only" by Fiction Plane
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Whether you like the book or not, ''everyone'' remembers Katherine and Sam, and they're nearly universally-beloved in the fandom. Katherine even still has fans after she becomes Kissin' Kate Barlow. (Some people loved her even ''more'' after that.) It also helps that the film gives her AdaptationalHeroism, only killing people who were part of the lynch mob.
* GeniusBonus: Mr. Sir creates a tough, cowboy persona in order to get over the embarrassment of his real name: [[spoiler:Marion]]. This is very similar to '''Marion''' Robert Morrison, better known as [[spoiler:Creator/JohnWayne]].
* HeReallyCanAct: This was Shia [=LaBeouf=]'s first feature film role and it proved that he had acting capabilities beyond the broad comedy of ''Series/EvenStevens''.
** RetroactiveRecognition: Nowadays, he's better known as Sam Witwicky in the first three live action ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' movies.
* JerkassWoobie:
** The Warden. Her [[AbusiveParents racist, greed-obsessed grandfather]] forced her to spend her entire youth taking part in a wild goose chase for a treasure. Even into her adulthood, it rules her life, and Sigourney Weaver gives her a terrific moment of anguish when [[spoiler:she's denied of the treasure her family has been looking for a hundred years and hauled off to jail]]. Still, y'know... child abuse.
** Kissing Kate went on a murder spree and robbed Stanley Yelnats I, leaving him to die in the desert, [[spoiler: but her school was destroyed and her lover was taken away from her by the jealous Trout Walker]].
** Squid. In the book, Stanley wakes up one night to find him crying due to "allergies", and warns Stanley that [[DisproportionateRetribution he will break Stanley's jaw if he says a word about it]]. This is AdaptedOut of the film, but at the end of the book, he asks Stanley to call his mother and apologizes on Squid's behalf (in the film, however, it's Armpit, not Squid, who asks this favor). In the film, we expand on this a bit and discover his mother is TheAlcoholic and his father [[ParentalAbandonment left them]].
* MagnificentBastard: The Warden. Intimidating, [[AffablyEvil unsettlingly nice]], wears rattlesnake venom as nail polish [[spoiler:and uses it to punish her employees]], and opened Camp Green Lake [[spoiler:to find Kissing Kate Barlow's buried treasure]]. Sigourney Weaver was quite bemused when her daughter finished the book and immediately told her "You have to play this awful person!"
* MemeticMutation: There's a post going around Website/{{Tumblr}} which includes a gif of Madame Zeroni, and it says if you forget to reblog her, "You and your family will be cursed for always and eternity."
* MoralEventHorizon: When Stanley and Zero come back to camp Green Lake, The Warden, Mr. Pendanski, and Mr. Sir show a complete lack of concern when [[spoiler:the boys are covered with yellow-spotted lizards]]. What makes this a tragic example for The Warden? See JerkassWoobie and UnintentionallySympathetic for how she became the uncaring jerk she is in the present day.
** Trout [[spoiler:killing Sam]]. Since that day, it never rained at Camp Green Lake [[spoiler: until the Warden and her cronies were put behind bars]].
* NarmCharm: "Dig It." In any other case, a movie based on a book like ''Holes'' with a rap number over the credits would be reek of being TotallyRadical, but the boys are musically inclined enough to make it work.
* SpecialEffectsFailure: You can really tell when the film switches between CGI lizards yellow-spotted lizards and real lizards with yellow spots carefully painted on.
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