Unlike the lame Stolen Summer, product of the first season of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's rags-to-Hollywood HBO reality series, the second season's flick is marginally watchable: the teen comedy/drama The Battle of Shaker Heights, starring the moderately John Cusack–esque Shia LaBeouf and Amy Smart. The real stars, of course, are the newbie co-directors, Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle, newbie writer Erica Beeney, and the Miramax staff led by producer Chris Moore. This exemplary three-disc DVD set (out July 13) is a must-buy for any aspiring filmmaker, hands down the most riveting reality show TV has concocted, because it chronicles a world only insiders have previously seen.
Rankin and Potelle are the best film teachers ever, because they so clearly show how to screw up the break of a lifetime. Be arrogant and ignorant. Ignore everyone from your writer to your studio bosses. Yell at your crew for not being able to read your mind, then give dumb orders. ("He's tellin' me where to put a microphone! I know where he can put a microphone!") Give opposing instructions to actors in the same scene, causing your female lead to lament, "Look at these guys! They don't know what they want!" Call pointless meetings for hours while you're losing the sunlight. Rewrite long monologues the last day of shooting, making the exhausted teen star incapable of nailing his lines. Deliver the final edit 30 minutes before the first public test screening, so the print can't be checked before 200 strangers see it and determine its fate. Badmouth the producer who's saving your ass daily. When J.Lo visits the set, be a bigger diva than she is.
Dim, dithering, charmless, and all but talentless, Rankin and Potelle are fascinatingly revolting characters, way more absorbing than anyone in Battle (which is included in the set along with all 13 episodes of the HBO series). Given that they made a halfway decent movie, imagine what you could do!
NOT MUCH BETTER is the lame '70s send-up Starsky & Hutch, on disc July 20 and also featuring Amy Smart. Also out: Lindsay Lohan in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen; Al Pacino in People I Know; Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins in the wan Philip Roth adaptation The Human Stain; Owen Wilson in The Big Bounce; and the documentary How's Your News?, about mentally disabled TV reporters.