Customer Reviews: Project Greenlight 2 (The Complete Second Series Plus Film The Battle of Shaker Heights)
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The Battle of Shaker Heights

I have never watched Project Greenlight. There I said it. I happened upon this movie and I'm glad I did. To me it's only of minor importance how this movie was funded and made, because the end product matters most. And the end product is much better than many would lead you to believe. You just have to know what kind of movie watcher you are. If you love independent films and don't mind slow and nuanced acting and a story with no cheap thrills, you can enjoy this. If you like more traditional movie experiences, you might find this treatment a bit slow.

Shia LaBoeuf shows why he is the "next big thing" of his generation in a very subtle and impressive portrayal of the main character. As Kelly he's an extremely over-intelligent high school kid who channels his brain power into nerdy pursuits like World War II history and military memorablia. Elden Henson is Bart, his fast friend from the better-off side of town. When he meets Bart's older sister Tabby, he develops a crush for a girl way out of his league, something every boy in high school is familiar with.

All the while, he works at the supermarket with Sarah, played well by Shiri Appleby, who would have clearly been an easier target for him. All of these relationships are a back drop to the frustration we see Kelly experience from his family life, with a father battling his demons and a mother fighting to hold it together.

William Sadler and Ray Wise round out what really is an all star cast. And even though the slow is made in a slow and deliberate way, the cast of this movie is really one of the treats. They all perform exceptionally well, even in parts that are written sparsely.

I think they definitely captured the angst of high school in a way that was honest and real. These are not typical kids, but that makes it all the more easy to understand why a character like Kelly might not fit in and might act out. Sure they could have fleshed this one out more, but I guess all those Damon and Affleck connections helped to cast this one well enough to more than make up for it.

If you enjoy slow and introspective independent films, or are a fan of Shia LaBoeuf, you will find lots to like in this movie.

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on September 25, 2003
Under normal circumstances, one would not think much of this movie. It's a nice coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old boy (wonderfully played by Shia LaBeouf), but there's nothing spectacular about it. His relationships with his parents and his potential love interests are not fully developed, and the viewer doesn't necessarily buy into what they try to tell us. It's been done before, and it's been done better.
But, if you watched the Project Greenlight series on HBO, it's a must-see. It's fun to see how all the scenes turned out. The much-debated group hug no longer exists--if it did, you'd walk out of the theater or turn of the TV. A big thank you to producer Chris Moore for getting rid of that.
All in all, it's a "Sunday Afternoon Movie". It's the kind of movie you watch on a Sunday afternoon when it's raining outside and all you want to do is sit on the recliner and eat popcorn while someone tells you a story for an hour or so.
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on December 20, 2003
Shia Lebeouf plays Kelly Ernswiler, a high school senior trying to just survive life in this comedy-drama by directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin in what is arguably there biggest job yet.
Kelly is a young man who enjoys reinacting famous battles from past wars. This is partly a way of reliving history, and a partly a way of escaping life with his recovering drug addict father, played by William Sadler of The Green Mile, and his mother, played by Kathleen Quinlen from Apollo 13. Kelly still hasn't found a way to forgive his father for his past abuses, so he prefers to spend the day with his new friend Bart Rowland and his wealthy family. Bart and Kelly strike up a friendship over their shared love of history and Kelly's desire to strike back at a school bully. Along the way, Kelly finds himself attracted to Bart's older sister, Tabby, a girl engaged to another man, which threatens to destroy their friendship.
This is a very rich coming-of-age story with characters you can't help falling in love with. Kelly's character is complex, and there are times you want to strangle him, but you feel his heart is in the right place. Shia Lebeouf does a tremendous job in his role. After Holes and Charlie's Angels, you can feel that this young man has a great future ahead of him. The supporting cast played their roles perfectly, and the script was very welldone. From the minute you start watching this film, you can't take your eyes off of it. It didn't get 5 stars due to the lack of extras. Being a Project Greenlight winner, you would think that they would have had plenty of material. Given that and the short 77 minute running time, it loses a star.
Overall though, I highly recommend this film if you want to see a perfectly well-rounded movie that has very few flaws.
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on January 26, 2004
I watched Project Greenlight when Battle of Shaker Heights was featured. Getting a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the movie making process was fascinating. The show allowed a glimpse of the angst the writer experienced having her story re-written a few times to suit the directors' vision. Conflicts between the directors and the writer and producers as well as Mirimax execs made it seem the movie would not finish successfully.
Sadly, the movie was only released in a limited number of cities and theaters, and probably wasn't the blockbuster hit originally hoped for.
I believe the movie was a huge success in a couple of ways: great writing and super acting by Shia LeBeouf. Witty subtleties in the dialogue can be attributed to brilliant writing. I hope Erica, the writer (also listed in the credits as a bridesmaid), didn't have to compromise as much as it seems she did during the course of Project Greenlight.
I think this was a breakthrough performance for Shia. He artfully and comically captured Kelly's (his character) intriguing mix of angst, passion, self-deprecating humor, knowledge and intellect. I was captivated by his passion, pitied him for being a bully target, and was mad at him for his resentment aimed at his freshly sober dad.
The movie was lacking in plot and character development, especially the relationship between Kelly and his father. This, I believe, was due in great part to editing, and not the original story. Another area I felt the movie lacked was the crush Kelly had on his best friend's sister. It didn't seem particularly believable and more awkward than anything. Hooray that in the end Kelly chose his friend-coworker. That was a much more believable and endearing match.
Though I wouldn't categorize the movie as Oscar-worthy, all in all, it was very sweet and cleanly pulled together. It held my attention and left me loving and empathizing with Kelly.
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on September 3, 2003
I have always been a Shia Labeoudf fan. When I saw the "Battle of Shaker Heights" trailer I knew I had to see it just because it had Shia in it. I am lucky enough to live about 20 miles from Shaker Heights, so despite the limited release I was able to see it in theaters. The day it came out, I picked up the paper and was dissapointed to see that it had only recieved 2 1/2 stars. I still went to see it, not expecting very much, and boy was I pleasantly suprised.
The storyline was incerdibly touching and so real that everyone can see themselves in one of the characters. I laughed out loud at least a dozen times. What was so touching was the article I read after I had seen the film about the extreme parallels between Shia's real life experiences with his father and the role of Kelly's father in this film. It was probably difficult for Shia to revisit certain aspects of his childhood, but at the same time I really think this aided him in making his character come alive.
I did not watch the "Project Greenlight" show but I plan to watch it when it comes out on DVD. I think this movie might have been even better if the studio was given more money and time to produce it. It is a shame that movies like Gigli get millions of dollars to produce and this movie barely had enough to scrape by.
Some critics labeled this movie as a dull coming of age story. I beg to differ. Kelly ( Shia's character) was able to derive a sense of gravity from his interactions with his mother ( Kathleen Quiinlan), who was a starving artist, and his father (William Sadler) a recovering drug addict, that at times made it difficult to predict whether the movie would end up being a drama or comedy.
This story chronicles Kelly, a war reanactor enthusiast, who falls for his wealthy friend Bart's ( Elden Henson) sister, Tabby ( AMY Smart). Kelly akwardly approaches any social situation with the same cluelessness he employs on the mock battle field. He even mentions to Bart that he writes his own rules about everything. Unfortuantely in highschool individuality is not a hot commodity. Instead of blending in, all of Kelly's flaws are accentuated by his akward, sometimes forward demeanor. You can only imagine how funny his interactions are when he attempts to win the heart of Tabby. Despite his flaws and quirks, the audience will end up rooting for him to win all the perverbial "battles" in his own life.
Due to his friends urging, Kelly eventually takes a stand against his peers in school and confronts his parents. He later is forced to deal with regret after seeking revenge on a certain classmate that had been his greatest nemisis. The movie ends on a bittersweet note when Kelly ultimately reconciles with his father and forgives him for squandering his college savings for drugs. Kelly also realizes that Tabby ( Amy Smart) has entered into a grown up world in which Kelly is not yet accustomed to. When Tabby dismisses Kelly, it is a moment that everyone can relate to. It will bring the viewer back to their own experience of akward adolescent relationships. It definately is a pivotal moment in the film, and rightfully so.
I think that this movie was much better than critics suggested and it proves that movies do not need to be laced with vulgarity and sex to be entertaining. Perhaps this is why the critics did not enjoy it. Maybe we are so used to seeing garbage that it has become some sort of standard in which we measure everything by.
Bottom line : See this movie you wont be dissapointed.
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on June 24, 2004
If you watched season 2 of HBO's Project Greenlight you know that the writer of "The Battle Of Shaker Heights" wrote more than just a 79 minute movie. The filmmakers turned the film into something much less than it was on paper. There were so many scenes that were shot, that were deleted from the final cut (which has many movie fans asking "Where is the deleted scenes on the DVD") Yes, (cutting scenes) this is true for any movie and you might say all movies don't have 12 episodes on the making of... that show you what you're missing. So perhaps Project Greenlight hurt the film more than it helped it. Still in all anyone would have been able to see that this movie is missing something. What it isn't missing is a great character and an even better performance from Shia La Beouf. His work is the high light of the movie. THE BATTLE OF SHAKER HEIGHTS received mixed reviews, but everyone can agree Shia La Beouf is a fine actor and his work here will be easy to remember.
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on July 23, 2005
I must say that the second season of Project Greenlight was some of the most engrossing viewing I've enjoyed in years.I'm not a person who watches much television at all so for me to actually purchase the dvd set is saying much.

As an aspiring filmmaker I felt this dvd set was the next best thing to an actual internship.A really educational and insp

iring television series.

I wasn't crazy about the film and thought it was actually mediocre.I don't blame the directors for this and if you watch the episodes detailing the day to day process you'll understand why.

I can't recommend this product highly enough.A must for aspiring filmmakers.
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on November 26, 2003
My husband and I both absolutely loved this movie! Its a cute coming of age comedy .. we watched the series of the making of this movie and were so anxious to see it we drove 2 and a half hours to Cleveland to see it .. let me say it was well worth the trip! I must agree I dont know if someone who didnt watch the series would appreciate it as much .. but its still a good movie.
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on May 6, 2005
I enjoyed the movie so much that I bought the Project Greenlight DVD's to see how the process was done. No, it is not the best movie I have ever seen, and no, it isn't even in my top 10 "movies of all time".....but, I do feel it is a great coming of age film and deserves to be seen. Shia ROCKS in this movie, and I hope he is given the chance to act in many more films.
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on October 28, 2015
Knowing this was a Project Greenlight film, I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It's not a classic, but it was interesting seeing Shia when he was young. Not a bad film. Just not a great film.
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