Review: Project X


Photo: Beth Dubber

Project X is, in essence, a mass orgy; a glorification of drugs and sex, and an overall miss for Todd Phillips, producer of The Hangover and Superbad. Viewers will leave the theater wondering, “What just happened?”

The movie hardly has a plot, but the basic premise is the rise of the underdogs — in this case, three high school friends Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper), and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), who embody “misfit” in every sense of the word. Thomas is a good kid with an overbearing aura of social awkwardness; Costa is loud, obnoxious, and offensive; JB is a gamer, and the unlucky target of all of Costa’s jokes. When Thomas’s parents are out of town on his birthday, the three take the opportunity to make names for themselves by hosting a party to be remembered for years to come. But after Costa invites the entire school, thousands of guests show up. Surprise, surprise: all hell breaks loose.

“It felt like a war scene,” said Cooper in an interview. In late February, the actors toured the country, screening Project X for college students. The boys explained that Project X’s main objective is to take its viewers on a wild, unimaginable ride.

While that ride is crudely entertaining, it’s simply a compilation of every overplayed high school plot that exists. At this birthday party there are countless naked girls and plenty of alcohol and drugs. And sex. Can’t forget about that. Project X is an out-of-control rager where high schoolers get wasted, high, and naked. And that’s about it.

But the movie’s portrayal of a legendary party is hindered by some extra-unrealistic notions. Though the film is intended to be outlandish, the impracticality is at times cringe-worthy, especially its depiction of the response to the party. A newscaster reports that police forces have no choice to let the party die down before they make entry. Thomas and dozens of partygoers, who are watching the report, cheer and rage on into the early hours. Authorities stand by while chaos blares from the house and topless girls and beer bottles litter the backyard.

Project X is filmed in a found-footage, mockumentary style which is at times so shaky that it’s actually nauseating. The unsteadiness, combined with the pounding, incessant house party music, is bound to induce headaches.

“I just picture 60 year old moms [on the rating board] sitting around, eating popcorn, watching,” said Brown in an interview, “and then I imagine mass walk-outs.”

Indeed, this movie is not for the faint-hearted. Despite its lack of substance, the movie does attain the one-track goal it aims for: to depict one hell of a night.