Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy Movie Review of ‘Project X’ (2012)

Movie Review of ‘Project X’ (2012)

Considering that Todd Phillips was responsible for both Old School and the successful Hangover movies, it’s no wonder that his name is all over 2012’s Project X. In a nutshell, this is a proverbial “found footage” slant on the standard high-school-party-gone-wrong premise blown up to epic proportions. Indeed, the words “out of control” severely undersell Project X, as it fast develops into every party fanatic’s wildest dream and every parent’s worst nightmare. Needless to say, the whole enterprise is irresponsible, mean-spirited and morally repugnant, but it’s also mightily fun and satisfying. Project X is a bona fide guilty pleasure, though how much you enjoy it depends on your tolerance for this type of vulgar humour. Imagine if the photo slideshow at the end of The Hangover was translated into a movie – that’s pretty much what you get here. If you’re easily offended, stay clear. Everyone else, have at it.

The setup is pretty typical: three socially-insignificant high school seniors – Thomas (Mann), Costa (Cooper) and JB (Brown) – crave acceptance into the cool crowd, and realise that a game-changing party has the potential to do thus. On Thomas’ 17th birthday, Costa encourages his companions to take advantage of the opportunity, especially since Thomas has the house to himself after his parents leave for the weekend. Hiring cameraman Dax (Flame) to film the event, the boys arrange a night of alcohol and drugs, promising countless potential guests a party to end all parties. While Thomas wants to keep things under control, Costa’s mass marketing leads to an explosive shindig. As hundreds, potentially thousands of people show up, things fast get out of hand, drawing attention from both the media and the police.

For what’s essentially just a brainless party movie, Project X is surprisingly relatable. Thomas is portrayed as an everyman, and he is our entry point into the narrative. The emotions and arcs he experiences (being reluctant to host the party, feeling anxious about the thought that maybe no-one will show up, feeling frightened that the party-related anarchy will lead to big trouble from his parents, and finally embracing the fun before ending up feeling lucky he survived) are easy to identify with, and one can put themselves in Thomas’ shoes with ease. However, the script is marred by the inclusion of one of Thomas’ childhood friends, Kirby (Blanton). They’re established as plutonic pals, yet Thomas violates the friend zone and Kirby goes along with it, leading to an insufferably clichéd romantic subplot. It was visibly thrown in to add some heart, but the way it plays out (particularly with an absurd rekindling in the final scene) weakens the illusion of reality, reminding us that this is just a scripted movie.

At the very least, Project X is one hell of a hilarious ride for most of its runtime. From the serene party preparation scenes to the moments of insane partying which culminate with a street-bound riot involving police and a news helicopter, the humour seldom flags. It’s exceedingly juvenile stuff of course, but my word, it works remarkably if this type of stuff appeals to you, especially the climax which continues to escalate in terms of both anarchy and hilarity.

All of this madness is filtered through the proverbial found footage aesthetic. On top of Dax the videographer filming the night’s events, supplemental material is provided courtesy of various cell phones, news outlets and police cameras. Since extras were actually given leeway to do their own filming with Blackberries and iPhones, director Nima Nourizadeh had hours upon hours of genuine-feeling footage to dig through, evoking his instincts as a music video director to use as much as he could to create flashy montages illustrating all of the fun being experienced. However, at times the film does feel like a calculated movie with planned cinematography, microphones and conscious editing. Plus, the sound mix is far too polished; it sounds manufactured, not as if it was captured with the amateur filmmaking equipment that the picture was lensed with.

Project X has its faults, but this reviewer had a lot of fun with it. It’s an entertaining celebration of youthful abandon; a time in your life when you’re old enough to do anything you like, but before you’re intelligent enough to realise you probably shouldn’t do them. Even if a few moments stick out as being the product of a written movie, more often than not it sells the illusion of being a wild party filmed by its guests, and it captures the essence of a party atmosphere. Make no mistake, this is completely disposable entertainment which won’t be remembered in a few months from now, but it possesses an engaging energy and an infectious sense of fun which hardly wanes. The best way to enjoy Project X is with a handful of mates and a few dozen beers.

6.8/10

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I’m not one to see a movie based on a review.  I write reviews and I know that they can be very subjective, so I try to base my opinion