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A summer of religious enlightenment
Pete O'Malley is an eight year old boy, he lives with his Irish Catholic family of ten in the suburbs of Chicago. On the last day of school before summer vacation one of the nuns at his catholic school encouraged him to follow the lords path and not the path of the devils. Either he took it too literally or he was freaked out, because instead of playing baseball all summer like a normal eight year old he puts himself on a strange quest. He decides to take it upon himself to set up a stand outside a temple and meet some nice Jewish folks who he can save and help them get into Hevan.
He meets the Rabbi who is intrigued by his quest and answers all of Pete's questions. When there is a fire at the Rabbi's home Pete's dad Joe is the fireman who saves his son Danny. The Rabbi and his wife are so grateful to Joe that they invite him and Pete to their home, it is there that Pete and Danny meet and Pete decides that Danny will be his special project for the summer. Pete learns that Danny has cancer, and while it is in remission they don't know when it will resurface so they get started right away. To prove himself ready and worthy to participate in communion Pete sets up a decathlon that Danny must complete before proving himself worthy of entering the pearly gates. This quest is not a popular one in the Jacobsen of O'Malley home, but still they spend the summer bonding over this challenge and they learn a lot about each other and that they are not all that different.
Joe is very negative towards the Jews in all aspects; how their family dynamics work, their jobs and their frugality with money. When his oldest son wants to get into med school but canít because of his families finances Joe takes it as a slight like his son believes he is better than him, just like he thinks the Jews think they are better. Through out the film Joe and the Rabbi learn that they are not so different and their family values run along the same line, that they are quite similar, just their religious beliefs divide them.
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This was the first film in the very popular HBO series Project greenlight where Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producers. The series documents the production of a film from pre to post production. The idea is to capture all of the trials and tribulations that go on during the filming process that the average public doesnít normally see. The producers first have to pick a script, over 7,000 scripts were submitted and this was obviously the winner.
Personally think that the script only got chosen because of its subject matter. I found this movie a little offensive and shocking to for the sake of attention If they were going to go out on a limb like this they should have gone the full nine, like the passion of the Christ. Instead they didn't attack the subject matter directly, they really just tip toed around it. I felt that the build ups to the dramatic moments in this film did not have the payoff that they could have. I really liked Kevin Pollack in this movie, I though he was funny but could also turn the dramatic switch on in an instant. Both kids were quite good for their ages, you really grow to like them so when tragedy strikes you really feel for them. All in all I felt it was a real middle of the road film that was reaching, trying too hard to be dramatic.
The film made its debut at the Sundance film festival. It was given a budget of $ 1.8 million, and it only made back $ 134, 376. It was released to 13 theatres, no wonder it made so little money. Itís ratings were just as mediocre as itís box office, with Rotten tomatoes giving it a 35%, and IMDB averaging it at a 6.4/10. Project Greenlightís next Endeavor The Battle of Shaker Heights made a bigger splash with critics and was a bigger box office draw