We have all heard the horror stories of parties being posted on the Internet with events spiralling out of control. This story idea serves as the basis for Todd Phillips' (The Hangover) latest movie, Project X, which he produced. He intended it to combine teen comedies/party movies like Old School with found-footage films such as Paranormal Activity.
Thomas Kub (Thomas Mann) is a high-school student from Pasadena who is about to celebrate his 17th birthday. His friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) plans to host the most epic party possible at Thomas' house when his parents are away in effort to change their loser status. Costa spreads the word throughout the school and on the Internet, but the party is bigger than anyone could imagine. As Thomas tries to control the situation there is also romance in the air; he must choose between his long-time friend, Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton), and the most popular girl in school, Alexis (Alexis Knapp).
Because of the success of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, the found-footage genre has become popular, with this already being the third movie in that style in 2012 alone (after The Devil Inside and Chronicle). It's a cheap alternative, so now studios are trying to extend it into other genres, and an R-rated teen comedy seems as good as any.
But Project X is blighted by montages, using music, multiple cameras and cuts. The explanation for the filmmaking style is that it's meant to be a birthday video for Thomas, but it begs the questions of why film something so self-incriminating and also how did the characters get all this footage? Dax (Dax Flame) serves to be no more than the cameraman, not having a personality whatsoever, and he has a very voyeuristic filming style.
The movie pushes its premise to its extreme. It features 12-year-old security guards with Tasers, people jumping the room with skateboards, a crotch-punching midget and an angry drug dealer with a flamethrower. Considering the idea of using found footage is usually meant to bring a sense of realism, that was thrown out the window early.
As a comedy, Project X is not funny enough. The dialogue lacks wit and most scenes rely on more crude and physical humour, such as dogs humping things, because that is always funny. It does have its moments, but the best bits tended to be in the trailer.
As for the characters, Costa is big dick and one of the most annoying characters imaginable. Think Jay from The Inbetweeners without the redeeming features. He brags all the time, uses his friends and looks only for sex. He throws the party for his own selfish reasons. Of course the character was likely written this way to some extent, so Cooper performed decently, but deliberately making him annoying worked a bit too well. Costa was the type of person I'd personally want to punchand then again when he gets back up.
The acting throughout is pretty good from the young cast. Thomas is a decent kid pressured into having this party who tries to keep order when chaos descends around him. It is sad then when he changes in a negative way. Jonathan Daniel Brown is basically a young Jonah Hill, and Blanton reminded me of Dianna Agron from Glee, a nice person and easily desirable. So why would Thomas' eye wonder to Alexis? There is a mean spirit behind this movie. Why should we support these people turning a suburban home into a rave and ruining the lives of the people around them ? None of the characters face real punishment. Instead, they celebrates their excess at the expense of others.
The R-rated high-school comedy always has an audience and I am sure Project X will develop a fan base, but it will surely attract as many dissenters as it will fans.