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THE BATTLE OF SHAKER HEIGHTS

Compile enough clichés and quirks and act like a big enough jerk and maybe you too can win Matt Damon & Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight contest. Erica Beeney put together a pastiche of whimsicalities for the screenplay, and directors Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle demonstrated ugly egos if marginal talent on the HBO reality show about the making of the film, and so The Battle of Shaker Heights joins last year’s Stolen Summer as another opus the world could probably have done without.

High-school senior Kelly Ernswiler (Shia LaBeouf) has problems: he’s smarter than his history teacher, whose meathead son keeps hazing him; he wants to go to college, but his ex-junkie father spent all his tuition on drugs; and his smart-aleck attitude alienates him from everyone, the viewer included. Yet he still finds time to take on World War II — as a war re-enactor in scenarios that look slightly less produced than those of Saving Private Ryan. There he meets his new best friend, Bart (Elden Henson), and is attracted to the good life as embodied by Bart’s older sister, Tabby (Amy Smart). An occasional scene or line works — referring to his hobby, Kelly says, "You’re never more alive than when you’re faced with simulated death." But you’re seldom less so than when you’re faced with a simulated movie. (85 minutes)


Issue Date: August 29 - September 4, 2003
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