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- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The movie has an early 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.
- Complete Monster: Trout Walker is the source of nearly everything bad in the story all because of his petty hatred, bigotry, greed, lust, and egomania.
- Ear Worm: Dig it, oh-oh-ooh, dig it!
- Growing the Beard: The movie could be considered the start of this for Shia LaBeouf, who was still known primarily for his role on Even Stevens before it came out.
- Moral Event Horizon: When Stanley and Zero come back to camp Green Lake, The Warden, Mr. Pendanski, and Mr. Sir show lack of concern when boys are covered with yellow-spotted lizards.
- Mr. Pendanski telling Zero digging's "all he'll ever be good for."
- It's not hard to feel sorry for Mr. Sir when he gets slashed across the face by the Warden with her rattlesnake venom coated nails. That sympathy evaporates when he takes revenge on Stanley by refusing to refill his canteen and taunting him by pouring the water out in front of him. Hourly.
- Everything Trout Walker does shows him to be far on the other side of this.
- Special Effects Failure: In the film, the dead yellow spotted lizard.
- Tear Jerker: Again, poor Katherine and Sam.
- There's also a happy one at the end when it finally rains at Camp Green Lake and everyone celebrates.
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