Poor Stanley Yelnats VI. As a result of a family curse, he's just been convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sent to a juvenile facility in the middle of the Texas desert. While there, he's met with a nasty overseer, Mr. Sir (Voight, at his best), a proverb-spouting counselor (Nelson), and scariest of all, the Warden (Weaver) an intimidating figure who makes the kids dig holes in the desert to "build character." She's really looking for an Old West outlaw's treasure, and her ancestors' past may be connected to Stanley's family. Faithfully adapted by Sachar, from his own award-winning children's book, the movie keeps all the elements that make the book so popular with the early adolescent crowd: it doesn't talk down to the audience, it has an involving, complex plot, the characters are not caricatures, and it handles real issues with honesty. You won't find that in many movies aimed at any age nowadays.