Fred’s No Clue Movie Review

"The Battle of Shaker Heights"
Directed by Kyle Rankin & Efram Potelle

If you’ve watched the “Project Greenlight” series on HBO, or the last “Project Greenlight” film, Stolen Summer, you’re probably saying “why should I waste my time?”  Well, I’m telling you that this film is worth your time.  Is it a masterpiece?  No, but few first time filmmakers can churn those out.  But this is a very good film in my opinion.  It’s not often, that I take a film and just try to recommend it to everyone I know.  I think this is one of those films that I’m just going to tell everyone.  I am going to personally cheerlead this movie to hopeful success.  GO SEE IT!

The Battle of Shaker Heights, is a coming of age story about Kelly Enswiller.  He’s a  screwed up kid, mad at the world, falling in love with his new friend’s older sister who is about to be married.  He likes to re-enact war battles too, which makes for some fun comedy in the beginning.  The very versatile actor, Shia LaBoeuf, plays the lead character of Kelly.  I’ve seen this kid for a few years acting on the Disney Channel series, “Even Stevens”.  I thought for some time that he’s really funny.  He proves in this film that he’s got some dramatic chops as well, although it seems his best dramatic moments ended up on the cutting room floor.  He also very convincingly carries this film.  He’s got an amazing career ahead of him, from what I can tell. 

I loved Shia’s performance in this film.  He is tender and heart warming.  I laughed out loud a few times.  Shia can’t act in this film alone, and he’s got some great actors to work with too.  William Sadler and Kathleen Quinlan play his parents.  Elden Henson plays his buddy Bartt, and Amy Smart plays Tabby, his older sister who Kelly is in love with.  Shiri Appleby also is in the film as Kelly’s other love interest.  There are other supporting members as well, most notably Ray Wise from “Twin Peaks” fame.  This is a nice ensemble film, but like I’ve said before this film is about Kelly and therefore rests on the shoulders of Shia.  He does a wonderful job and I was very impressed with his depth at such a young age. 

I liked the film.  It has a great story.  It’s funny, it’s got a little meat to the story and not just yuk-yuks.  I loved the dialogue and kudos to the writer of this film, Erica Beeney, who apparently is already working on more projects in Hollywood.  She seemed to have a good head on her shoulders and most likely a great career ahead of her.  While watching the series on HBO, I felt my heart break for her a few times.  As a writer, I think I would’ve had a hard time turning over my script to someone else and watching what they did to it.  I mean, even if they were doing a great job, it must have been a painful process to let go of the material after being so intimately involved in creating it on the page.  I think it also brought a new perspective to the material, which is probably good too.

The directors, Kyle and Efram, were able to bring heart to the movie and they got great performances out of their actors.  I think if I were them, I would’ve been awestruck jumping into this project.  You work so hard in life and then all of a sudden, it all starts happening.  But you’re used to working a certain way with practically no people, then you have a vast crew, producers to work with, and a studio with financial interest to keep happy.  I think they were a little bit awestruck too.  Not to mention the fact, that someone is documenting all your mistakes for the world to see on HBO.  It had to be nerve racking.  I thought visually the movie looked great and set a good tone.  It’s extremely polished for a first time feature.  One thing I didn’t like was there was a lot of inserted dialogue that I could pick up on.  I think most of that was brought on by the cuts they were making to get the film finished.  I also may have been a little more aware than the average viewer, since I look for stuff like that.  I think they have a fine film that they can be proud of in the end, and hopefully, they can get more work from. 

I think I am emotionally invested in this film since I watched the struggles that the filmmakers went through to get their film made.  I mean they had a 3-week shoot that began just a few short weeks after they won the contest.  Then they were doing post with a locked in release date.  It was a lot of pressure, but makes for great TV.  SO GO SEE THE MOVIE!!  I think the series does a decent job portraying what it’s like to make a movie.  I haven’t ever made a feature, yet, but I can see a lot of the same struggles in Kyle and Efram that I’ve had making my own short films.  And for that reason, it’s an inspirational series, knowing that you’re probably not doing it all wrong.  If you haven’t seen the show, seek it out in reruns on HBO, or check out the DVD when it comes out.  The first season is out now. 

One final note, I think that LivePlanet, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris Moore, should be congratulated for bringing this idea to the forefront.  It takes guts to put your Hollywood cred up with some independent filmmakers that you find on the Internet and make a movie.  They not only help them make it, but also are able to use their clout to help sell it.  I think that this is a great opportunity for anyone and kudos to these Hollywood filmmakers for helping out the little guy.  Even though, my chances of winning are probably better in the lottery, it’s still an amazing thing to do.  Plus, like I said, the series is inspirational.  It also might help widen the door for those of us who are independent filmmakers to get our movies seen. 

So GO SEE THE MOVIE!!  Support the filmmakers, the actors, and support Project Greenlight.  We need programs like this.  For info on where the movie is currently playing, check out the websites below.  It’s opening on Aug. 29 in ten major markets.  It’s currently playing in NY and LA.  If you’re in LA, go to the Arclight.  They’re great theaters and have been having Q&A sessions with the filmmakers on the weekends.  I went to one opening weekend, and the directors and Shia were present and offered some great insight.  They were also genuinely nice people and took time out after the Q&A to talk with people.  Again, GO SEE THE MOVIE.    

For more information visit

For short movies by Kyle & Efram

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come back soon, until then, i’ll be at the movies…