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.