If you began reading this blog because you’re a fan of director Jonathan Kaplan’s (Without a Trace) 1987 film, “Project X,” starring Matthew Broderick, (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) Helen Hunt, (Mad About You) and Willie the chimpanzee playing Virgil the chimpanzee, then I am afraid you’re going to be disappointed. That film is certainly enjoyable to watch. I would recommend it, especially for fans of the stars of the film. This blog, however, deals with the more recent 2012 movie “Project X,” which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with its predecessor except for sharing the same title.
“Project X” is not a film that lends itself to a great deal of analysis or critiquing. It is not because I want to be snobbish, but for all intents and purposes, the plot is flimsy – and that is me being generous. The premise can really be boiled down to a few words: teenagers wanting to throw a party that people will be talking about for years to come. There is precious little in the way of character development and the movie is completely devoid of any sort of back story or subtext.
The movie produced by Todd Phillips, who is responsible for brining the world the mega-hit comedies “The Hangover” and “The Hangover Part II,” was helmed by first time film director Nima Nourizadeh who uses, in this blogger’s opinion, the played out ‘found footage’ style. The screenplay, written by Michael Bacall (21 Jump Street) and Matt Drake, provides situations which allow the teenage protagonists to indulge in every hedonistic urge their adolescent minds can think of. If you remember watching the trailer, I can safely say that the film delivers on its promise of an insane party where anything can happen.
The three leads of the film are high school friends: the birthday boy, Thomas (Thomas Mann), who is a good all around person and a likeable character, but not very popular with his peers; the foul-mouthed, instigator and party planner, Costa (Oliver Cooper), who wants to seize the opportunity of being able to throw a party while Thomas’s parents are out of town for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary; JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) is an overweight teen, who sports glasses and seems to be a continuous source of amusement for the obnoxious Costa and then there is Dax (Dax Flame), who has a camera permanently attached to his hand and captures the entire fiasco on film.
What begins with the simple premise of having a reasonable crowd over to Thomas’s house to celebrate his birthday, escalates into a full blown birthday bash, but not before coming across as a standard teen flick that has been done many times before. It features the likes of a creepy guy, who is clearly many years older than the partiers, but wants to hang as if he is still in high school; freshmen, who are desperate to advance their standing by being granted access to the event; the girls, who, as the movie lets the viewers know, are off limits to all but the coolest of the high school cool; and the old story of the female friend who would make the perfect companion for birthday boy Thomas, but he is too dumb to realize it. If he did, he could have saved himself a whole heap of trouble. Instead the viewer is privy to a party which contains a supply of alcohol that could fill up a man-made lake, drugs such as ecstasy, a DJ’s music that continuously provides the driving force for the revelers, and property destruction on a grand scale, all thanks to the wonderful world of modern technology which allowed the news of the party to spread like proverbial wildfire.
As you read this blog, did you get the feeling that you’ve seen this scenario before – maybe even multiple times? No doubt, you have – just with other titles. In the event you haven’t and you have always dreamed of attending an out-of-control party, then “Project X” is the perfect way to live vicariously and experience the mayhem without it costing you anything other than the price of a rental. If you are seeking a film with a message and a moral core, then do yourself a favor and skip this movie because none will be found.