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|Index||49 reviews in total|
This movie demonstrates that you cannot make movies by committee. You need a clear vision of the end product before you begin, which these directors obviously didn't have. But it's harmless enough. I didn't laugh. I didn't cry. I've seen much, much worse.
"The Battle of Shaker Heights" is the second offering released and made from
the successful HBO reality series "Project Green light" which chronicles the
search for a screenplay and director in which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
will produce for one million dollars. Then we get to see the movie being
made and inevitably watch the film.
I didn't see the first season of "Project Greenlight" but I did watch the
product of it "Stolen Summer", a mediocre, bland, and safe offering from
Damon and Affleck who don't want to take a risk considering their history
for risky and edgy indies like "Mallrats", "Chasing Amy", and "Gerry". I
decided to watch the second season of "Project Greenlight" and yet again it
was the search for a screenplay to finance and a director.
For the second season there was the same self-indulgent ranting from Affleck and Damon, and some showing off of J.Lo from Affleck but nonetheless I watched amateur screenwriter Erica Beeney win, and a two director team Efram Potelle, and Kyle Rankin get the chance to show off their chops. Suffice it to say the season was a rip as we watched these three amateurs slog through the production, fight, and fail in all the test screenings to audiences. So, "The Battle of Shaker Heights" was made and released, and yet again after watching I realized it's still more contrived, fluffy, and safe offerings into the film world.
I can't understand why Affleck and Damon won't take more riskier projects on board and insist on financing these fluffy shallow films other than using this show for publicity. What's wrong with "The Battle of Shaker Heights"? Many things, but mostly it's it's horrible script and dialogue. Some dialogue had me cringing, some had me staring in confusion, and some dialogue just left me alienated.
We saw the series, we saw the activity, and we saw how many people actually had input on the making of this movie. It's clear by this movie, all of its characters, all of the muddled subplots taking place at once that there were simply too many cooks in the kitchen. We could see it in the series. We saw the directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin, two very unprofessional directors attempting to take control of the film and re-write the script, we saw Erica Beeney trying to take control of her script, we saw producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck weighing in, we saw Harvey Weinstein weighing in, we saw producer Chris Moore coming in and trying to take control. There was just too many people for one movie, and that's the problem. Did it occur to anyone to give them the money and let them make the film, then give your input on the finishing article?
Ultimately, "The Battle of Shaker Heights" is not a movie, it's a concept for a movie that never gets off the ground. I felt like I was watching an hour and a half trailer for a movie with a bunch of random scenes cut together without a real story, I can't wait to find out what the real movie looks like. What "Shaker Heights" suffers from with the mediocre directing job is a very underdeveloped range of characters that we never get to know. We trudge through lines like "Why are you dicking with me, you little dick. You wanna play, dick face?" and the worst of the dialogue where the main character Kelly is attempting to talk with Tabby. She is painting and she says "I'm playing with diffusion", to which he replies "Well make sure you do it under super vision." Ha ha. It's cheesy lines like that make this movie so ridiculous at times.
Kelly played by the very talented Shia Lebeouf is a world war re-creationist who takes pride in knowing about the wars fought and is a bit rebellious, and one day he meets Bart the youngest in a rich family who befriends the troubled youth and the two become friends, until Kelly meets Bart's older sister Tabby well played by Amy Smart who doesn't seem to acknowledge the boy but still befriends him slightly and goes about her business. Soon Kelly looks for any excuse to hand around Tabby knowing she's getting married which creates conflict. Very under-developed conflict.
Throughout the entire film I was thinking how good this movie could have been had they added thirty more minutes to the running time which could have left the door open for more character development and more development with its number of subplots, but once again, its story never goes beyond its concept. Kelly is an odd character, he's a war buff because hey he has a vehicle and wears the clothing, and he works at a supermarket when there's nobody there, and he has a friend/co-worker named Sarah played by the adorable Shiri Appleby, another grossly under developed character who has a combined total of five scenes in the film and is never focused on. We know the two are friends and we get the slight sense she's jealous at his fawning over another woman, but there's barely any focus on her, so who cares?
So, we see Tabby another under-developed character who's given the persona of an artistic individual who never develops beyond her character concept. She's a bit of a tease towards Kelly giving him little smiles and flirty come on's yet gets angered when he responds. She's then given the plot that she's getting married to a guy named Miner to when she's ever asked about the marriage she quickly responds "I don't want to talk about it." Why? They never explain it. It was assumed by me that she was set up from another rich family and forced to marry him. But it's never explained in the sloppy script.
So Kelly confronts her in a really bad scene when she's crying complaining her fiance kissed another woman which leads to a kiss between the two characters. If she hardly seems to care about her fiance why does she care that he cheated? It's plot holes like that that make the movie unbearable to watch at times. The character Miner, Tabby's fiance doesn't seem to be a bad guy. He befriends Kelly, talks to him like a friend, yet we're supposed to view him as the bad guy.
Screenwriter Beeney never gives us a reason to hate him, so Kelly is the one that comes off as the jerk in his pursuit towards Tabby. Then it's never explained why Kelly falls in love with Tabby in the first place, and we never really get to know Bart outside of his conceptual design as a neat dresser and proper yet friendly guy. So, Kelly is given an obligatory sub-plot which handles the job of setting up his character but is really forced. His mom is a Bohemian artist who houses a group of artists who manufacture paintings in their home and sell them, and Kelly's father works somewhere with drug addicts.
Being an ex-addict himself, he tries to reach out to Kelly though Kelly refuses to talk to him. Once again, Kelly's parents aren't given subplots nor are they developed and fleshed out, so they're simply plot devices in the end. The plot tries to reel towards comedic tones but ultimately ends up as a depressing drama about a rather annoying guy. Writer Beeney sets up so many sub-plots at once but never fleshes them out and never develops them, so everything feels forced, awkward, and rushed. Even as it transforms into a drama, the drama is forced as well in some awkward and droning scenes including Kelly confronting Tabby on her wedding day, a scene where Bart and Kelly inflict revenge on a school bully which attempts to be funny but just ends up becoming mean, and the happy safe ending which is so trite, obvious, and tacked on it left me groaning in my seat.
"The Battle of Shaker Heights" has a lot of potential to be a great coming of age teen drama, but potential is all it has. "The Battle of Shaker Heights" and "Stolen Summer" is proof that a good concept doesn't always pan out in a successful franchise. While the "Project Greenlight" is entertaining and engrossing the finishing products are poor. How about throwing more money and time to these poor people? It's no wonder HBO dropped the series.
Though this does garner great performances by Smart, Elden Henson, and especially Shia Lebeouf and the occasional entertaining moment, this suffers from a terrible script with grossly under-developed sub-plots and characters, cheesy dialogue, and many plot holes.
My advice: stop "Project Greenlight" until Affleck and Damon are ready to take risks in their investments and until Miramax is willing to cough up more money and time for making these films. Then maybe we'll get a film worth talking about.
* and a half out of **** stars.
Oh, how I tried to love this movie. I was so emotionally invested in
Project Greenlight, and although the directors seemed like idiots, they
weren't evil idiots.
It turned out to be an okay movie, which is almost worse than being awful. There were a few laughs, but for the most part I didn't care about the characters in the movie nearly as much as the "characters" in Project Greenlight, and that is the problem that I have with it. If someone has to see Project Greenlight in order to care about the movie, then the movie failed.
I don't know if it was the script...or the directing...or the behind the scenes things that the Hollywood Producers did that we don't know about...but I didn't like this film...mainly because I didn't believe it...I didn't believe one minute of this film...everything seemed fake. Project Greenlight has now used 2 scripts that people don't want to see...There wasn't one scene in Shaker heights that rang true to me...
I don't know who is giving this movie all those 10's. It cannot seriously be based on the quality of the movie. The directors are more talented than they got credit for in the series, but the movie is completely predictable and full of sorry cliches. Shia Lebeouf is a decent actor but, personally, possibly the most annoying person I've ever seen.
HBO did a "Real TV" series on the making of BSH which portrayed the co-directors, Efram Potelle & Kyle Rankin as two self-absorbed numb-nuts. Be ready to see why these two guys won the Project Greenlight Director contest in the first place! The movie is awesome given the absurd conditions they were given. I was personally present at the premier & was pleasantly surprised to find myself laughing out loud (along with 800 other attendees in the packed theatre). The movie brought you through a whole gamut of emotions in a very believable, "everyone can relate to" story line. With another wonderful performance by Shia, a well written script and two obviously very talented directors (who once again prove they can do more than comedy) The Battle of Shaker Heights is destined for good things...if Miramax allows it.
I must admit that after watching Project Greenlight every Sunday night, I was not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. This is a very enjoyable film. Shia is great in this role. He was the perfect choice. Good job with the editing...specially the hospital scene with Kelly and his parents!!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS. A coming of age movie that raises questions about just how whacky
a kid can be without someone in a white coat paying attention. Reminds me a
little of other movies in which people walked the edge, "Sterile Cuckoo,"
The kid, LaBoeuf, is in high school and is something of an outsider. He makes enemies and he makes a friend, sort of. He's ordinary looking but seems to know everything about everything -- from flowers to art and military history.
He'd give all this up in one big jiffy if his friend's sister, Amy Smart, a blonde graduate student who is so stunningly gorgeous that she is to physical beauty what LaBoeuf is to intellectual prowess, would only give him a tumble.
And she does. A little anyway, after an especially bad hair day when she needs a little cuddling and reassurance. The problem of course is that this little kiss of sympathy means little to her, but emotionally he's working at about at his grade level.
In the end he more or less grows up and starts dating the plain but rather engaging girl of his own age who works at the same supermarket.
There are some subplots thrown in. LaBoeuf's father managed to lose all the kid's college money so the kid hates him. Kathleen Quinlan is the mother and there are tearful scenes in which she tells LaBoeuf that he, LaBoeuf, hates the man she loves. Much of this seems to belong to a different movie. And I'm not sure Dad deserves much in the way of admiration, having deprived his own kid of an education at Dartmouth and doomed him to a community college.
For that matter I'm not sure that Tabby, the blonde he falls for, deserves his adoration. In a frantic last-minute talk with her, when she's about to be married, he tells her that the groom is not good enough for her because he's just some kind of would-be industrialist while she is an artist. I missed the first few minutes, but her work as we see it later, as she plays with "diffusion" -- well, there are more staggeringly gripping abstracts that have been done by elephants, literally.
I kind of liked Tabby's boy friend though. He's tall, muscular, and handsome and looks stupid. When he and LaBoeuf first meet, LaBoeuf comes up with some insane riff about how his job at the supermarket makes him a caterpillar industrialist. The boy friend whistles and looks puzzled, but then anyone would in the face of this uncrafted explication of what it means to be a "pupa." And when we meet the boy friend later, for a minute or two, he seems like a genuinely nice guy who admits to having rented his tuxedo and who is really in love with Tabby. I had the feeling that he and Tabby -- not just Amy Smart but ANYBODY named Tabby -- would get along just fine. Even the divorce would be what is called "amicable."
Too many things are going on in the movie, but LaBoeuf comes across as a kid who will eventually grow up and be a success in life once he is able to differentiate between make-believe and realpolitik. It could easily have been worse.
For a first time effort for writer and director(s) this was a fine little
movie. Million dollar budget, no time, documentary cameras. . . . I
think they did just fine. Besides, who else is giving people a shot
at getting started in this business? Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
could probably avoid a lot of grief if they turned their backs on this
whole thing, but they're trying something no one else in Hollywood
is right now. Why are the knives out for this movie more than My
Shia is a great actor who probably saved the film in many ways. I enjoyed it. The theatre I was in was full, and people were laughing. I wouldn't buy the DVD, but I certainly think it was worth my time and money. I hope Project Greenlight continues, and maybe they pick directors by asking them to do a scene from their favorite script. Then we might find people who are more comfortable with the material.
Shia LaBeouf delivers another wonderful performance in the movie. I give Hollywood another year and half to figure out how kick ass he is. This film would not have been nearly as moving and watchable as it is without him. Can't wait to see what he does next!
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