Review of Project X


Movie Review: "Project X" --

Rating: R (crude humor, drinking, drugs, sexual content, nudity, reckless behavior and mayhem involving teens)
Length: 88 minutes
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Genre: Comedy
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Moviegoers would be wise not to confuse "Project X" with the 1987 Matthew Broderick film of the same name. These two films could not be more different. The original was a sci-fi classic while this one is from the fairly new genre of documentary-style filmmaking using footage that has been "found."

The found videos in "Project X" are of the mayhem that ensues after three friends throw a party. It seems young Thomas (Thomas Mann) is going to be all alone when he turns 17. His parents will be out of town, so he decides to throw a party not only to celebrate his birthday but also to increase his popularity. It turns out Thomas and his friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) are all outcasts for one reason or another. They think that throwing an "epic" party will make them seem cool. Though it is Thomas' birthday, the script by screenwriters Matt Drake and Michael Bacall makes it clear that the biggest motivator is really the cool factor. In an age of instant Internet sensations and reality stars, these boys want to be famous in their own right.

Word soon spreads about the party, which is exactly what the group of friends wants. The movie tries to convince us that Thomas worries about what his parents will think when they get back from their weekend away. That plot point soon disappears as he realizes that the bigger the party gets, the more people will talk. The more people talk, the cooler he and his friends will seem.

So, instead of spending half the movie worrying about how crazy the party will get, these boys begin to go out of their way to make the party bigger. After a scant few drinks, they suddenly don't seem to care one iota about any possible consequences of their actions. When a movie frees itself to be this careless, the result is a lot of gross-out humor, which is found in spades in "Project X."

Though the film centers on teenagers, this isn't a comedy in the vein of "Porky's" or other teen romps. Those movies had several settings and the character motivations included sex and drinking. Here, sex and drinking take a backseat to appearances. It doesn't matter if anyone gets lucky at this party; instead, it matters that they looked cool while doing it. This puts "Project X" in a whole new realm of teen party comedies because the main focus is on image much more than the usual teen antics.

The film's production company went out of their way to brag about the party thrown in order to film the "found footage." While publicizing the film, producers showed images of the real party they threw in a Pasadena home to get authentic party footage. The film does look very authentic, including real police who were called multiple times to the house due to noise complaints. It could set a new precedent for how these types of films are made. Surely the homeowners who live near the "Project X" house hope this isn't the case.

"Project X" will likely be compared to movies like "The Hangover" and "Superbad," which also centered around debauchery and partying hard. The difference is that those movies had ultimate goals. The only goal in this film is to party and be cool. There is no real plot here, just footage that was found after a night of hard drinking and drug use. Nobody remembers what happened at all, which is typical of these movies.

The good thing about "Project X" is that it is not trying to be more than it really is. This is a simple raunchy comedy that doesn't want to do anything more than make you laugh. It is not going to provide a message about teen drinking or drug use. There is no redemption or life lesson learned at the end. It is just a mindless comedy, and it makes no apologies for it.

Teenage boys and college students will probably love the raunchy humor of "Project X." Those who have had big nights of debauchery like the one portrayed in the film will likely get a kick out of it, too. As long as they go into the theater prepared to let go of reality for 88 minutes, they will leave with a few hearty laughs that may remind them of past experiences.