- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t the risk of sounding like a grouchy old man (and for the record, I’m not even 30 yet), “Project X” is hands down one of the most irresponsible comedies that I've ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing about this film that could possibly have any sort of positive effect on the high school crowd it was made for – a demo that’s not even old enough to buy tickets to see the movie – except perhaps as a cautionary tale on how not to act like a self-entitled asshole. “Project X” is yet another pointless addition to the found footage genre that’s predictably short on laughs and not nearly as cool as it wants to be.
The film takes place over the course of a single day as geeky teenager Thomas Kub (Thomas Mann) and his two best friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) plan an 18th birthday blowout when his parents go out of town for the weekend. Though it's billed as a celebration for Thomas, the three guys have ulterior motives as well – namely, to prove that they can hang out with the popular kids and get laid. But when the party starts to spiral out of control into a chaotic orgy of booze, drugs, sex and destruction (including an angry dwarf who likes to punch people in the groin and a guy with a flamethrower), the trio quickly loses control of the situation, deciding to instead embrace the fact that they’ve just thrown the most epic high school party in the history of high school parties.
The truth of the matter is that most of what happens in “Project X” is so unrealistic and over the top that it wouldn’t even seem appropriate in one of producer Todd Phillips’ “Hangover” movies. (I’ve never been to a party where teenage girls have been so willing to get naked in public, especially one that's being filmed by some weird emo kid from school.) Though the local cops do make an appearance midway through the film when one of Thomas’ understandably disgruntled neighbors calls in a noise complaint, they don’t return until long after the party has escalated into a full-on riot, which would never happen in suburban Pasadena. What’s even worse is that despite presenting "Project X" as a found footage movie, everything feels remarkably staged, and that's the one rule of the genre that you simply cannot break, because it ruins the entire setup of the film.
Of course, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference if director Nima Nourizadeh had done a better job of preserving that spontaneity, because with the exception of a handful of moments, there’s nothing remotely entertaining about the film. The general purpose of “Project X” seems to be to celebrate the anarchic nature of this generation’s youth, and if you ask me, that’s not worth celebrating. It wouldn’t be quite so reprehensible if the friends actually learned something from their experience, but the only moral of the story is that you should do whatever it takes to become popular, even if that means burning down your parents’ house. I don’t know what’s more disturbing: that a movie with this kind of message was made, or that some of the audience actually enjoyed it.