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'Project Greenlight 2' film 'Battle of Shaker Heights' tarnished by link to show

By Wade Paulsen, 08/22/2003 

Maybe there's such a thing as too much reality in reality TV. Today, The Battle of Shaker Heights, the movie that was documented in HBO's Project Greenlight 2 during its filming, opens today in the U.S. -- and the one constant in the critical reviews of the movie is a discussion of the battles during its filming that were depicted on the show.

Without the HBO series, there appears to be little question that the movie would have received better press. It was made by Miramax Films, generally a darling of critics. It features Disney teen star Shia LeBeouf ("Even Stevens"), who had a surprising success this spring with the offbeat film Holes. LeBeouf's performance generally wins raves, including ones from The New York Daily News and Hollywood Reporter, who both describe his performance as "excellent." However, even the sympathetic critics can't cast off the movie's origins in reality TV, and the unsympathetic (or, perhaps, lazy) ones focus on nothing else, as shown by the Newark Star Ledger, the Kansas City Star, and the New York Times (registration required).

As we have not seen The Battle of Shaker Heights, we have no comment on its quality. However, the fact that the producers and the directors had different visions of the film (including the mix between comedy and drama) is likely true of half the movies made in Hollywood -- and just because these different visions were aired on TV doesn't make them any more newsworthy. We wonder if these film critics are simply disturbed that reality TV has intruded on "their" turf....


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