PROJECT X Review

You don't really expect to go into a movie that is labeling itself as The Hangover on steroids and not get a good amount of ridiculous. All those commercials we have been bombarded with over the last few weeks have used words like epic, awesome, insane, wild, best party movie ever. In a sense they are right. "Project X" is not shying away from what it is and makes no qualms about what it isn't. This is a movie that exists to bring to life the aspirations of every high school student that exists right now or has ever existed. No matter if you were the most popular kid in school or an unknown this is a party you wish you'd thrown and our protagonists reach a status we all enjoy seeing and don't have to pay the consequences of. Though in the end everything is wrapped up a little too neatly and the kids get off a little too easy it isn't the eventual after effects that matters. It is the here and now, the living in the moment without wondering if it will all be worth it tomorrow. It seems to be the message of the movie that risking everything for one legendary night is in fact worth it as you are made celebrities for it. Though part of me couldn't believe what was going on and I realize the stunts these kids were pulling didn't stand too tall when logic is brought into the equation, but the other half was laughing its butt off at the absolute absurdity of the whole thing. I couldn't help but to laugh no matter how irresponsible, immature, and ridiculous the situation got. While it seems wrong to reward such behavior by glorifying it, the movies have been doing it for years and this one may have accomplished it on such a scale that it will be a staple for high schoolers for years to come.

From left: J.B., Thomas, and Costa experience the party of a
life time in "Project X".
The movie hits all the of the typical party cliches as far as stock characters like the fat kid with glasses best friend (Jonathan Brown as J.B.) and then there is our stories hero Thomas (Thomas Mann) who is just now figuring out his hot girl best friend is the one he was meant to be with. Oliver Cooper is the leader known as Costa who puts this whole shindig together and leads the film with a flair for arrogance while clearly being unsure of what he has gotten himself into. Mann handles leading man duties well as he is actually allowed to develop his character as someone conflicted by knowing he is going to pay for this and reveling in the awesomeness of what is actually going down in his back yard. There are fun bits with a drug dealer that is off his rocker as well as a new dad neighbor who wants the party shut down by 11:30. Then we reach the point where midgets are hopping out of ovens, dogs are being airlifted by balloons, and cars are being driven into pools. I have always appreciated a comedy that is willing to not only go the distance for a laugh but one that is also willing to get so over-the-top and out there that it leaves audience members stunned by the pure ridiculousness of what is happening. That is where "Project X" succeeds. This is not simply just a high school film about a bunch of underage kids getting together and doing bad things, but it escalates to a point that is legitimately unbelievable. No doubt countless attempts will be made by young ones around the world who see this this weekend to recreate the event but most will be hard pressed to find a flamethrower that can do THAT kind of damage.

Security is upheld by two unlikely adolescents that take
their job really seriously.
It also has to be noted that this is shot in the "found footage" documentary style that has become increasingly popular this year. While I didn't look too highly on either "Chronicle" or this film upon first seeing trailers for them, both have turned out to be rather good surprises. While audiences are becoming more accustomed to this style of film it also really adds an authenticity to the entire proceeding that with the comedy genre at least makes it feel not just more real to the audience but it puts you in the middle of that it becomes an experience you often times feel a part of. There is just a difference in watching this cast of unknowns as they achieve everything we wanted our high school years to be and watching established comedic actors executing a well tuned script. Most people, and likely probably those hard edged adults, will look at this as derivative of any point and another sign that the apocalypse is getting closer. Others will simply ignore it and some will only see it as a geek's escapism into what he could do had he rich enough parents and friends that really don't care about him. There is a lining in "Project X" that makes me want to agree with those people. Part of an ethics code that makes me want to look at this as an "adult" would and say that it is dumb and outlandish, but most of all irresponsible. Still, the movies have always been something of an escape for me and for anyone who wants to see such ludicrous situations be lived out without actually having to deal with the consequences. That is what the movies are here for, to show us things that would be impossible in out day to day lives. This provides that escapism in spades and it is also consistently hilarious. I'd be mad if it didn't make me so damn happy.

The Boys get in a little trouble, to say the least, when
Thomas parents arrive back home.
There is no doubt this will largely be bashed by critics and while I have to rate the production of it and overall story as a pretty average film it does have a killer soundtrack and is nothing short of a good time. Sure, we don't actually get to participate in the party and we are literally the only people participating in the event that are in a right state of mind but that only allows us to realize scale of the madness at which this movie documents. Director Nima Nourizadeh, a music video vet, does his best on his first feature to separate the redundant highlight of the film with pretty montages of the kids having a good time set to a good mix of old and new school songs. Each montage gives us what we pay for while the chemistry that infuses our trio of leads holds over the loose storyline that mainly has them dealing with keeping things under control and hiding their party from the cops. It is when they lose all control that the movie really begins to become not just interesting but ultimately entertaining. For the first half hour or so it skates by on the charisma of the kids and their ability to feel like typical teens we can all relate to but by the time helicopters from the local news stations start showing up it is full scale madness and that is what we paid to see, that is why we show up to movies that look like they were shot on our phones. "Project X" will incite many arguments among those who loved it and want to live it and those who won't admit they can enjoy it without taking it too seriously. Others will simply be so offended they won't believe a movie like this was even made. I had fun though and I won't deny the teenager in me wasn't smiling the whole time.