“Dude, people are stealing shit, breaking shit. I mean people are probably stealing shit.”
Before watching Nima Nourizadeh’s Project X, I absolutely thought I was going to hate it. Everything about it just looked cliché, obnoxious, and just down-right stupid. Well, after seeing it, I can confirm that it ticks off on all the points I just mentioned. This film features characters we’ve all seen before, with some that are very unlikeable, and some truly silly moments – but that’s where all fun comes from. Yes, I had an extremely good time with Project X, and no one is more shocked than I am when I say that. This is the very definition of a guilty pleasure. There’s nothing deep, morally decent or witty about this comedy – all the humour comes from how insane the film becomes. Shot in the found-footage style of filmmaking, Project X made me wish the parties I went to were just as fucked up and insane.
Thomas (Thomas Mann) is celebrating his 18th birthday on the same weekend his parents go away for a wedding anniversary trip; he and his friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) decide to have a party in Thomas’ family home in suburban Pasadena. Invitations are sent out through social media, and the party soon spirals out of control.
Written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall, Project X doesn’t spend any real time in making us care about its characters – like I said, there’s nothing deep here at all. Mainly, the film just builds up momentum, basically keeping us entertained with how insane Thomas’ party gets. I’ve taken a real liking to Michael Bacall lately, after his writing work on 21 Jump Street and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Bacall has a knack for really giving younger audiences what they want, and he does so perfectly here with co-write Drake. The character of Thomas can be related to by many audience members as he is basically depicted as a nerd and an ordinary guy. Any one who’s had to throw a party will notice similarities between them and Thomas, as he himself experiences certain feelings that most of us have dealt with. For example, stressing out if anyone will show up at the party, and trying to keep everything under control.
On the down side, there are moments in the film where you can tell that the film is so obviously scripted. The found-footage style should give the film the illusion of realism, but there are so many sub-plots that go against this. The character of Costa in particular is so unlikeable, and he’s a basic rip-off of Stifler from the American Pie franchise. A certain key sub-plot in the film revolves around Thomas and his friend Kirby, who has a crush on him. However Thomas fancies popular girl Alexis, and thus, this causes tension between the three characters. We all know where this is going, and clichés like this just shatter the whole realistic angle of the film. Along with that, the ending just doesn’t give off any real consequence for any of the characters’ actions. Yes, the film isn’t supposed to be morally correct, but selling the idea that one can just throw a cataclysmic party and get away with it just seems a bit silly to me.
The three lead actors are actually quite good in their roles. Thomas Mann is naturalistic in his line delivery, and definitely slips into his teenager character with ease. Oliver Cooper plays the stereotypical obnoxious friend, but he does it well. Likewise, Jonathan Daniel Brown is the cliché fat character, but like Cooper, he pulls it off and makes us believe that he’s a real person. The great thing is that all the actors here are young, and thus they’ve experienced many things these characters are going through. All the extras definitely give off the vibe that they’re having a great time, and they were even allowed to record moments during production on their phones, allowing Nourizadeh to have a ton of footage to work with.
At the end of the day, Project X just wants to have fun with its audience. The best part is that everything is so over-the-top that you just tend to forget about all the atrocities and go along for the ride. Thomas’ party just gets so out of control, and that’s the real fun of it. None of the humour is in the dialogue – it’s the events that make you laugh. I won’t say this is the most hilarious film I’ve seen all year, but I definitely enjoyed the sheer amount of chaos that erupted at the party. Like I said earlier, the filmmakers had so much footage to work with, and they make excellent use of it. Edited by Jeff Groth, the film uses News footage shot from a helicopter, security cameras, and camera phones. All this is mashed up together perfectly, and there are a few montages that just add to the fun of the film. It is a bit strange to see a montage in a found-footage film, but let’s face it – a montage with perfectly licensed music is a staple in any party film. Speaking of music, the soundtrack was terrific and definitely gives the film a real youthful energy. Also, I liked the fact that the film really embraced its R rating – there’s constant references to booze and drugs, a lot of nudity, and a ton of swearing.
Overall, I enjoyed the living hell out of this film. I know it’s not for everyone, and if you don’t like films like this, then stay away. Project X is targeted for those who can really ignore all flaws and just enjoy the ride. There’s stopping how insane the film gets, particularly during the climax. If you’re expecting witty humour and deep messages, you are a total idiot. However, if you’re looking for an insanely fucked-up time at the movies, look no further than Project X.