Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writers: Matt Drake, Michael Bacall
Stars: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton
Release date: March 2nd, 2012
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 88 minutes
Best part: The party.
Worst part: The unlikeable characters.
With the increasing popularity of found footage films hitting theatres, the movement is constantly having to spread into different genres to stay fresh. Recent hits Chronicle and now Project X have both successfully interpreted common genres through the exploration of the american teenager. Project X re-invents the frat boy comedy through fun yet shocking almost apocalyptic events.
With a similar set up to the 2007 cult hit Superbad, we are introduced to three horny, unpopular teenage boys all desperately wanting the life of boozing, drugs and girls so many of their classmates already have. Thomas (Thomas Mann) is forced by his obnoxious friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) to throw a huge party for his 17th birthday. With his parents conveniently out of town for the weekend, what should’ve been a small get together soon spirals out of control as their insane desire for popularity and girls leads them into several preposterous situations.
Catering specifically towards the teenage audience definitely works for this film. It cuts all the crap as rules and curfews are replaced with one insatiable temptation after another. A bevy of topless chicks, drunken debauchery, drugs and even a large bouncy castle are on display, creating the perfect image of an insanely fun shindig. First time director Nima Nourizadeh does a surprisingly impressive job with keeping a tight leash on this documentation of american house parties. One montage after another, accompanied by one hell of a Rap and Hip Hop soundtrack, creates the slow motion turn on for any teenage boy. Bouncing bodies, destruction and instant popularity for geeky teenagers take up every hand held frame. This comes as no surprise from producer Todd Phillips as his directorial efforts (The Hangover films, Old School) illustrate exactly how to party. Every scene of this film is a reminder of the photo montages at the end of The Hangover films as we see what could have happened on both those nights. With the consequences of this off the wall gathering ready to kick in at any moment, the anticipation of what will set it of and where it will go, constantly builds; leading of course to one over the top and destructive plot twist after another. The cinema verite style strives to realistically document the ultimate night for an american public school teen.
“I’m gonna go have a long cry, and then start calling some lawyers.” (Costa (Oliver Cooper), Project X).
Though uncontrolled and unfocused at points, the characters behind the cameras manage to stay away from temptation and effectively capture everything going right and wrong for our three dweeby main characters. The hand held style does however feel unbelievable at points. Despite crediting Warner Bros. for the different sources of footage (an over used gimmick in itself), the constant slow motion montages and underwater effects distract from this so called ‘realistic’ version of event documentation. This celebration of bad behaviour owes many of its predictable plot lines and unrealistic characters to comedies such as Superbad and American Pie, with many of its themes of rebellion and positive new experiences paying homage to the Richard Linklater cult classic Dazed and Confused. The three main characters are completely unrealistic. Their views on girls and even each other rings true with Superbad, yet the chemistry between them never reaches the peaks met by the Judd Apatow produced comedy. Costa, remarkably looking like a cross between Jonah Hill and Shia LeBeouf, never shuts up. His sexist attitude towards women pushes it over the edge, while never delivering a feeling of growth for his character throughout the course of events. Thomas and JB however are nondescript to a point of coming off as stupid for following through with every one of Costa’s outrageous plans.
While already outraging many and probably influencing others, The main star of Project X is the party. Even the most cynical part of you will be shocked by how far events go. Vulgar, cruel and hilarious all at the same time, the stuck up critic in everyone will be thrown away at the sight of a midget being shoved in an oven or a neighbour being tasered by a small security guard.