The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003)

003BSH_Amy_Smart_019“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. The main reason to watch “Battle of Shaker Heights”? The cast. Though the characters are so under-developed, the cast does their best and they manage to make this memorable. Amy Smart gives a great performance as the sexy older woman with mystique and is pretty good with her character.

Kelly 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 hang around Tabby knowing she’s getting married which creates 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? 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” also suffers from is the mediocre directing job is a very underdeveloped range of characters that we never get to know. 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. Though Smart isn’t a traditional beauty she comes off as radiant, and very beautiful. Elden Henson is great in his supporting role as Bart the best friend of Kelly who helps him exact his revenge on the school bully.

Shiri Appleby is usually very adorable in her performances and though she’s given very little to do here, she manages to come off as likable and adorable. Shia Lebeouf’s also gives a pretty funny performance. One of the funniest scenes is when he meets Tabby for the first time, and his deadpan deliveries of his witty one-liners. 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. “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.