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The Battle of Shaker Heights

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In the second offering from HBO’s Project Greenlight filmmaking series, Shia LaBeouf plays Kelly, an eccentric high school senior whose anger toward his recovering druggie dad (William Sadler) is rivaled only by his passion for war reenactments. Though his immediate future seems to be as a supermarket stock boy, Kelly manages to fall in love with a beauty (Amy Smart) and get revenge on a bully (Billy Kay). First-time directors Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle and screenwriter Erica Beeney (who crafts cute, clever lines like ”He’s a VH1 documentary without the music”) create an intriguing character, but LaBeouf’s performance, with his curly-locked brashness and innate comic/tragic timing, deserves most of the credit. There are no extras, but we’ve already been behind the scenes at length. The real question: whether the end product justifies the means.