The ads say that Project X is like if The Hangover had sex with Superbad. I don’t know which of those two movies actually carried Project X, but I do know that it drank heavily during. The movie is a found footage mess about 4 high school losers who throw the party to end all parties. On his 17th birthday, Thomas’s folks leave town for the weekend (odd timing) and his best friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) will plan the blow-out while Dax (Dax Flame) films it all. Before he goes, Thomas’s father sets down a number of reasonable if sternly delivered rules about which rooms he can go in the house (never his office), how many people he can have over (five or six), and what not to touch (his car, obviously). This is supposed to get us on the boys’ side and to decide that the uptight parents had it coming. Led by the entrepreneurial Costa, they accumulate more than 1000 guests, a fun house, two DJs and a sign by the pool that says “Naked Chicks Only” that is observed. These guys go to a great high school, where all the boys look like scrawny, pimply high schoolers and all the girls look like sexy starlets. The problem with party movies is that they aren’t as fun as being at the party they show. Yes, the party in Project X is nuts, but only if you were there. I wasn’t, so it was boring and pointless. Have you ever had someone you don’t like very much tell you about a party they went to, and not very well? That’s Project X. Thomas (Thomas Mann) is supposed to be our connection to the story, he’s the normal guy that we can potentially identify with. That’s fine. But Costa, who was cast, I suppose, because of he resembles Shia LaBoeuf and nauseates me in a similar way, is the offensive, loudmouthed jerk that should to be slyly likable but is never anything but obnoxious. I mean, what’s to like about someone who calls women “Sugartits,” refers to himself as Captain Big Dick, and calls the dog a “faggot?” He also talks positively about Queens. At one point he is punched in the groin by a little person. That’s cliché, but I enjoyed it. I understand that this kind of character has a long tradition in this types of movie, something like a Stifler or Jonah Hill’s character in Superbad, but Hill’s character was sweet, his aims were debauched but not mean, and Stifler was never supposed to be liked. I did like J.B., the pudgy, nerdy, punching bag because he likes R. Kelly. I know that’s shallow, but I can sink to the level of the material. The most talented of the four friends is Dax, the cameraman, who is everywhere and seems to catch everything. That guy is impressive, to so selflessly give up the party of the century to film it all. Yes, the camera was a little shakey, but there were 1000 people there, he’s bound to get bumped. He’s a little in love with shots from behind barriers like window shades and chainlink fences but, I’ll give him a break, he’s in high school, it’s a time to be self-indulgent. Plus, everybody sounds great! Tough to do without microphones.
The party gets out of control, the news broadcasts it like a riot (truthfully a cop on tv says “We just have to let this burn out before we can even attempt to move back in.”), a little person ends up in the oven, the precious car ends up in the pool, and a man with a flamethrower marches through the street. There’s nothing particularly funny about any of this. Little people, for example, are not funny on their own, to think so is offensive. As is the movie’s casual use of ‘faggot’ which was shamefully in vogue when I was in middle school and had become uncouth by the time I hit high school and that was a long time ago. I know I shouldn’t bring a pencil to a finger in the dirt party but the movie never establishes the crazy energy it wants to make me forget about this stuff. It’s also depressingly sexist. The boys all claim that they threw the party to “have girls notice” them, putting women on a pedestal but then they and the movie treat women like interchangeable bodies. Then there’s Thomas’s old friend who likes him and has blossomed into the prettiest girl in school, but he doesn’t notice because she wears clothes. Found footage is tiresome to me, especially if it isn’t justified. Project X would be changed in no way if it was shot traditionally, in fact it would be improved, as our camerman gets some good angles on a sex scene and its creepy to think of a teenager filming two other teenagers having sex. The father character is a dangerous cartoon. He assures his wife that their son won’t throw a party because “he’s a loser,” and after the party while he’s explaining that Thomas’s college fund is now gone, he betrays a respect for Thomas, I guess because his boy would turn out to be just as stupid as he is. Even the celebrity cameos, by Jimmy Kimmel, Jillian Barberie and Big Boy of Big Boy’s Neighborhood, are poorly written and lame. The teenage party movie is ripe soil for comedy but Project X is just terrible.