Back-To-School Month: "Project X" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Back-To-School Month: "Project X" Review

Rating: R (crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language)
Length: 88 minutes
Release Date: Mar. 2, 2012
Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Genre: Comedy

"Project X" is an American comedy released in 2012. It was Nima Nourizadeh's directorial feature-film debut; previously he had only directed commercials and music videos. Michael Bacall and Matt Drake, who penned the script, based it on an original story by the former. Todd Phillips, who produced "Project X," also produced the 2009 comedy "The Hangover." The primary plot of this film focuses on high school students Costa (Oliver Cooper), J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown), and Thomas (Thomas Mann) as they throw a huge party in an attempt to become more popular. However, the party soon gets out of hand.

The filmmakers initially used "Project X" as a working title, intending to replace it with the film's actual title before its commercial release. Nevertheless, they decided to keep it after it generated a large amount of public interest during the film's production. Director Nourizadeh wanted a cast composed entirely of unknown actors, so he placed a national open-casting call. He sourced most of the cast members this way, although Mann and a few other actors had previous experience. Principal photography required five weeks, which Nourizadeh shot on sets in Los Angeles. The entire film is shot from the perspective of a home video camera being operated by one of the attendees of the party.

The film is set in Pasadena, California, where J.B. and Costa decide to throw Thomas' birthday party. Thomas' parents are away for the weekend and have left him alone in the house, although they warned him not to have a party or drive his father's Mercedes. Costa hires Dax to record the night's events and begins to advertise the party. They also buy marijuana from T-Rick, a local drug dealer. Costa steals T-Rick's lawn gnome, intending to use it as a mascot for the party. T-Rick chases the boys, but they manage to escape with the lawn gnome.

Partygoers begin arriving in huge numbers, causing Thomas to question Costa on his advertising methods. Costa eventually confesses that he advertised the party on a local radio station in addition to posting ads on Craigslist. The police arrive shortly thereafter in response to a noise complaint, but the partygoers convince the officers that the party is already over. The lawn gnome gets broken after the police leave, revealing a large stash of ecstasy pills. The partygoers quickly eat all the pills, causing the party to spiral out of control.

"Project X" makes heavy use of crude bathroom humor, which may offend some audience members. It's clearly intended for a younger audience, primarily those under thirty-five years old. Its main appeal will be to college students or people in their early twenties looking for a fun time at the theater. Much of the humor is also politically incorrect, and some of the gags are outrageously over-the-top.

The film's main premise of high school outcasts seeking to become more popular is established early in the film. Thomas is the most normal of the three lead characters, although even his own father admits his son isn't exactly popular. J.B. is merely dorky while Costa is downright obnoxious. He is entertaining to be around for about five minutes, but most people go out of their way to avoid him after that. Costa will remind older viewers of Ferris Bueller—minus the charm and wit.

The planning of the party occupies the first third of the film, which contains physical altercations that will remind viewers of the similarly themed movie "The Hangover." However, "Project X" takes on a more serious tone once the party actually begins. Both films show the main characters taking mood-altering drugs, but "Project X" does not use this theme for comedic effect. The drug use in "Project X" makes the characters more pitiable than those in "The Hangover." The mood lightens considerably in the last third of the film, which features several sequences that are completely hilarious. The epilogue showing the future actions of the main characters is especially clever.

The film's target audience will be entertained by its comedic approach, especially as the pranks become progressively more outlandish. While the film is primarily characterized by perverse humor, it also has some softhearted moments, such as the budding relationship between Thomas and his would-be girlfriend. Many of the jokes are obvious before they occur, which only adds to the appeal of the film's broad sense of humor. All three lead actors are convincing in their roles, despite their general lack of acting experience.

Rating 3 out of 5

Tags: Project X