Battle of Shaker Heights, The

With a junkie for a father and a hippie/artist for a mother, Kelly couldn’t wait until high school to grow up, so you’ll excuse him if he’s a little bit jaded. Not that he’s a bad guy. He’s a smart kid with a razor-sharp wit and when he’s not stocking shelves at the local supermarket, he’s reenacting WWII scenarios on fake battlefields or he’s drooling over authentic memorabilia and gear. But he still has the school bully to deal with. He still has drug addicts and Chinese immigrants sleeping on his couch and eating his food. He still has a dead-end job and a crush on his best friend’s soon-to-be wed sister. He still has problems that battle plans cant handle. Or can theyr

(Minor Spoilers Ahead…..)

Kelly befriends a fellow reenactor with which war is the only thing they have in common. Named Bart, he attends a prep school on the other side of the tracks from Kelly’s modest public domain. Bart’s house is a relative mansion to Kelly’s and his family is wealthy and amicable. Bart is everything Kelly wants to be, but never will. Still, the two form some sort of odd couple and, together, they strike up a plan to deal with at least one of Kelly’s reoccurring problems: the high school bully, Lance.

In a battlefield-tested game plan, the two set up Lance for the embarrassment of his high school career and quite literally catch him with his pants down. Still Kelly must deal with forgiving his parents on his own. He still has to put his pie-in-the-sky infatuation with Bart’s Yale grad sister into perspective. He still has to realize that he’ll never live the same life Bart does. He just has to face reality, but when tragedy and disappointment are as much a part of your life as math homework, it’s not an easy task.

While Beeney won’t direct the film version of her script like the previous Project Greenlight winner did, she did produce a very interesting and creative script for her first pro effort. The story reads like that of a seasoned pro and Beeney does a fantastic job of showing, rather than telling, the characters’ thoughts and developments. The ending is rather anti-climactic and leaves a lot to be desired, but the bulk of the script is enjoyable and I look forward to seeing what she has to offer in the future. The film itself stars Shia LaBeouf of Disney’s “Even Stevens” and the spring Disney film “Holes” and feels like the perfect fit for Kelly’s clever, but awkward teen. Amy Smart (swoon!) plays Bart’s sis Tabby, and Shiri Appleby from “Swimfan” and TV’s “Roswell” plays Kelly’s co-worker and admirer Sarah.

“The Battle of Shaker Heights” won’t be a summer blockbuster and it will more than likely suffer the same quick to video fate that “Stolen Summer” (the original “Project Greenlight” film) did, but it should be another great season watching the film get put together and the film itself should be just quirky enough to warrant another season. This script, by newcomer Erica Beeney, was picked as the winning screenplay of the second season of HBO’s “Project Greenlight.” This script, although not dated, is the version submitted that won her the screenwriting portion of the contest.

Rating: B