Review: Project X (2012)

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown

It can be said that there’s nothing more important to a high school student than rapidly climbing the social ladder to the very top of their class. Throwing a balls-out birthday bash for your best friend is one way to do so, but at what cost? Nima Nourizadeh’s Project X, despite how unnecessary it is on a base level and perfect an example of how stale the subversive teenage party scene’s become within the realm of cinema, is admittedly a pretty fun ride if you consider yourself the shallow type. In all fairness, I’m sure the powers-that-be didn’t have that much else in mind given how producer Todd Phillips’ footprints litter the bulk of the proceedings, however The Hangover for teens Project X certainly is not.

From the get-go, it’s apparent that screenwriter Bacall and the gang have decided to openly embrace annoying high school archetypes in an attempt to garner cheap laughs, more specifically from loud-mouthed pseudo-know-it-all Costa (Oliver Cooper), of whom is at the helm of the soon-to-be riotous celebration of best friend Thomas’ birth. As an effective comedy, I’ll tell you right now that Project X‘s highs are few and far between (and virtually nonexistent), and the wholehearted immaturity of the entire production, from gratuitous female nudity to a dwarf popping out of an oven to punch a handful of unsuspecting party goers in the genitals, is entirely too much a turnoff to allow the unabashedly visceral flair Nourizadeh’s debut sports to compensate for any number of the film’s flaws.

Agreeable soundtrack aside, Project X’s relentlessly over-the-top presentation coincides perfectly with its tagline, ensuring that the party is indeed one a teenager could and will inevitably only dream about. The overwhelming nature of the party in general is, believe it or not, pretty entertaining in light of how ridiculously aimless and implausible everything purposefully is. In trying to incorporate some semblance of morality into this balls-to-the-wall spectacle for the fictional neighborhood’s sake however, Project X fails quite miserably as we follow Thomas and the gang throughout their semi-ill-fated night as they merely try to get laid and as trashed as possible amidst the chaos, all while avoiding the inevitable intervention of the authorities and the demolition of this poor family’s house. Once the film’s latter act rolls around, things take a turn for the worse, coupling the already frenetic feel of the film’s first two-thirds with a literal riot that transforms the proceedings into an almost half-assed comedy-thriller, resulting in the requisite amount of consequences for the trio of friends and their cameraman to face, however the message Project X delivers during these final moments is utterly hollow and completely devoid of authenticity (much like the rest of the film).

While its amateur cast certainly brings enough charisma to the table to keep things considerably engaging, Project X as a whole is too one-track-minded to be anything more than just another mediocre faux-documentary-cum-teen party flick. Granted, I highly doubt that anyone had any intention of transforming the film into something more substantial, however the familiarity of the plot’s trajectory, characters, ample shock value and all leads me to believe that Project X simply missed the mark in being a widely appealing, moreover subversive take on a blatant genre mash-up. The raw visceral intensity of it all, cinematography included is a definite plus, and I actually enjoyed myself here and there, yet to wrap things up the way the film does makes everything come off as inconsequential and incredibly superficial regardless of how much trouble the gang actually ends up getting in. If you’re looking for a shallow, mostly mindless and big budget “Girls Gone Wild”-esque good time, then look no further than Project X, providing you’re not expecting anything outside of unfunny, overt gratuitousness.

Rating: 3/10

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