The Battle of Shaker Heights


The Battle of Shaker Heights

Critics Consensus

LaBeouf is appealing, but The Battle of Shaker Heights feels too watered down and disjointed.



Reviews Counted: 58

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,046


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.1/5

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Movie Info

The Battle of Shaker Heights is directed by the team of Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin. Kelly Ernswiler (Shia LaBeouf) is a quirky 17-year-old whose greatest passion is reenacting battles from World War II. After meeting Bart Bowland (Elden Henson), someone who is nothing like him but shares his passion, Kelly ends up putting his battlefield knowledge to work in real life. The script by Erica Beeney was the winner of the second Project Greenlight competition.

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Shia LaBeouf
as Kelly Ernswiler
Elden Henson
as Bart Bowland
Amy Smart
as Tabby Bowland
Billy Kay
as Lance
Kathleen Quinlan
as Eve Ernswiler
William Sadler
as Abe Ernswiler
Ray Wise
as Harrison Bowland
Philipp Karner
as Maurice/German Soldier
Anson Mount
as Miner Weber
Dale Simonton
as Todd/German Soldier
Michael McShane
as Mr. Norway
Hattie Winston
as Principal Holmestead
Rick Cramer
as German Officer/ Mr. Thomas
France Nuyen
as Xiou-Xiou Ling
Ellis E. Williams
as Charlie Hayes
Max Van Ville
as Infantryman No. 1
John Prosky
as Director
Justin Thomson
as Infantryman No. 2
Rachel Winfree
as Angry Woman
Merritt Yohnka
as Attacker No. 1
Pete Turner
as Attacker No. 2
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Critic Reviews for The Battle of Shaker Heights

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (24)

After the movie scored poorly at a test screening, Miramax vice president Rick Schwartz bullied directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin into playing up the comedic elements and soft-pedaling the family drama.

Apr 6, 2010 | Full Review…

The film is well-acted and looks good, but it's so inconsequential and bland that you wonder what was it about the script that made anyone think it would make an interesting movie.

Oct 3, 2003 | Rating: C-

Cinematic mush.

Oct 3, 2003 | Rating: C-

It's too much going on, but I think that as was the case with Stolen Summer, the actors rise above the material and make it worth seeing.

Sep 2, 2003

An inoffensive, if somewhat bedraggled, little movie.

Aug 29, 2003 | Rating: 2/4

It's simply an indie-film aping of Hollywood teen-mongering at its ultimate worst.

Aug 29, 2003

Audience Reviews for The Battle of Shaker Heights

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Elden Henson, Amy Smart, Billy Kay, Kathleen Quinlan, William Sadler, Shiri Appleby, Ray Wise, Anson Mount Director: Efram Potelle, Kyle Rankin Summary: Teenaged Kelly (Shia LaBeouf) loves reenacting battles. When he befriends Bart (Elden Henson), also a war enthusiast, they decide to take on a school bully by using time-tested strategies. But their friendship is tested when Kelly falls for Bart's sister. Directors Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle and screenwriter Erica Beeney are winners of Project Greenlight, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's moviemaking contest. My Thoughts: "It was funny and entertaining. Shia plays a kid who's mother is a painter and kinda a hippie.. His father is a recovering drug addict trying to better himself by helping those who are still addicts.. Shia's character is funny, smart, and angry. I think others would enjoy this movie. It was made before Shia got big.. I think it kinda reminded me of his Even Stevens character with all the smart come backs.. Liked Elden Henson in this movie too. Haven't really seen him in a lot of films."


Super Reviewer


The Battle of Shaker Heights may be a simple movie, but it does that in the best way possible. It brings together a great cast of characters in this low-budget, loveable movie. The story of Kelly (Shia Labeouf) as an actor in war films, decides to takes his acting skills into real life situations. When he mixes his war-life with romance, things get complicated and friendships are lost. This is a harmless movie that people of all ages can enjoy, with a heart-warming story and a great life lesson, The Battle of Shaker Heights just barely makes itself a great memory, but I will definitely be revisiting it in time. Very solid teen flick that not too many people know much about...

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


For it being a very small indie with essentially no reason for people to go see it other than it won Project Greenlight, it is a great movie. Shia LaBeouf really did a great job and carried the movie with no trouble. The story was a little corny, but it still manages to be a fun coming-of-age movie.

Conner Rainwater
Conner Rainwater

Super Reviewer

[center][font=Arial][color=darkred][img][/img][/color][/font][/center] [font=Arial][color=darkred][/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, being the egalitarian champions we all know celebrities to be, started a contest called [i]Project Greenlight[/i] that allowed aspiring screenwriters to enter for a chance to have the winning script made into a movie by Miramax and the process documented for a behind the scenes reality show to run on HBO.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred][i]Project Greenlight[/i]’s first winner was the hapless Pete Jones. His winning screenplay gave birth to Stolen Summer, a maudlin coming-of-age story about a Catholic boy trying to get his ailing Jewish friend into heaven. You can feel the grating precociousness already. While Stolen Summer was an artistic yawn the HBO series was a hit as we the viewers saw every stupid mistake, naïve decision, and screaming match during the production. Pete Jones’ pain was our gain.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Unlike the first contest, this one had a separate entry for directors and the tag-team of Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin were picked to direct the winning screenplay [i][i]The Battle of Shaker Heights[/i][/i], by Columbus, Ohio (represent) grad student Erica Beeney. Project Greenlight on HBO showcased the tension created by these butting heads. Beeney seemed ready to meltdown at a moment’s notice, probably because she let her good nature be taken advantage of by the egotistical, passive-aggressive, non-communicative, hilariously self-absorbed directors. This raises the question; did Affleck and Damon pick the best people or the people most likely to create the best television?[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Once again, the winning screenplay involved a coming-of-age story, this time revolving around the life of Kelly (Shia LeBeouf), a glib teenage war reenactor. Kelly befriends Bart (Elden Henson) during a battle reenactment. Bart is from a wealthy Wasp-y household where his college is already predetermined. Kelly, on the other hand, must sullenly deal with his father (William Sadler), a former junkie who wasted away his college fund, and his flighty mother (Kathleen Quinlan). Bart and Kelly scheme to teach a schoolyard bully a lesson, and in the process Kelly starts falling for Bart’s attractive older sister Tabby (Amy Smart).[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]The character of Kelly doesn’t seem to have any deep reflections of life or anything of substance, just wicked one-liners. The fact that Kelly comes off as a sympathetic hero goes fully to the charming LeBeouf, who displays a laid back sense of humor and allure that is reminiscent of a young John Cusack. LeBeouf gives a star-making performance that keeps the audience engaged, even if the story is turning them off.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]One of several problems [i]Shaker Heights[/i] suffers from is that the finished product is a one-man show. Kelly is such a dominating character, a whirlwind of misplaced rage that everyone that gets in his path suffers. His relationship with Tabby seems like nothing more than unrequited puppy love that doesn’t need so much screen time being spent on a tired “will they or won’t they” diversion. Kelly’s parents come off like they’re invisible. If you blink you may miss their entire time on screen. The father is more an absent force to drive Kelly’s angst, while his mother doesn’t seem to have any purpose or influence whatsoever.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred][i]Shaker Heights[/i] feels like a film made by committee because –as [i]Project Greenlight[/i] astutely documented– it [i]was[/i] made by a committee. Miramax executives decided they could sell the film better as a pure comedy so they removed most of the winning screenplay’s drama. So now, with this new incarnation of [i]Shaker Heights[/i], the comedy never really emerges from more than a handful of superficially cute lines, and whenever a bit of drama does emerge it seems alien and disorienting. The heavy-handed direction by Potelle and Rankin paints in broad strokes, so the dramatic efforts come off as forced and overblown when they sneak up on an audience.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]This incarnation of the movie may be entertaining to some, but with these cuts and directoral choices, [i]Shaker Heights[/i] seems horribly ordinary. Kelly is a disaffected teen with smart-ass comments; he lusts after the older girl who, of course, is with a supposed loser; his parents just don't know what to do with him. This could be dangerousy close to being described as a [i]Lifetime[/i] movie. The story is dulled down and all the edges seem polished off, and what an audience is left with is scenes, characters, and a story we're already well familiar with. Does [i]Project Greenlight[/i] seem to have a desire to select coming-of-age stories and then water them down to the point of distilling any original voice? The only interesting diversion in Shaker Heights is the war reenactment section, which is tragically too short.[/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred][i]The [/i][i]Battle of Shaker Heights[/i] is another theaterical dud from the [i]Project Greenlight[/i] crew. Fans of teen melodrama might get some moderate enjoyment from it, but realisticly, the only people who are going to pay any sort of money to see Shaker Heights are the people who avidly followed the [i]Project Greenlight[/i] TV series. And in the end, one can’t shake the feeling that [i]The Battle of Shaker Heights[/i] ultimately feels like a disappointing season finale to [i]Project Greenlight.[/i][/color][/font] [font=Arial][color=darkred]Nate's Grade: C+[/color][/font]

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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