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Project X | Review

The Party Don’t Stop ‘Til We Burn This Mutha Down

A film about a single house party descending into chaos, filmed as a home made documentary? On paper, it didn’t seem like it could work, but somehow Project X embraces all of the classic party clichés, cranks them up to 11, and celebrates the need for teenage celebrity at levels never brought to the screen before with something that resembles style. Director Nima Nourizadeh’s debut is an over the top film full of ‘HOLY SHIT’ moments that don’t elevate the material, but makes for an entertaining ride nonetheless. Despite its ridiculousness, it continuously surprises while telling a story of three friends’ rise in popularity over the course of a single weekend through the destruction of one boy’s neighborhood.

It’s Thomas’s (Thomas Mann) birthday. His parents are leaving town for the weekend, so he and his friends have free reign of the house in their absence. The plan is to throw a party big enough to attract the cool kids, but small enough to not cause trouble, at least that’s what Thomas thinks. When hundreds of people start swarming the property, its obvious his friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) did some unnoted promotion to boost attendance to astronomical numbers. Neighbors get mad, cops are called, crowds continue to swell, but what happens come climax is quite unbelievable, and that is the point. Though this isn’t a von Trier film, chaos reigns, and in its wake all shall be redeemed, or something.

By bringing us to the party via documentary style filmmaking, Nourizadeh finds the idea that makes the film actually work. The film is supposedly made of footage shot by teenagers – which explains the constant barrage of gratuitous boob and ass shots, but it also allows for a wide variety of different perspectives from various flip cam wielding kids. View points are allowed to naturally switch, and the kids speak to both the camera and the camera man with comedic insight on whatever hilarious or horrifying situation is currently going down. With each passing year, more and more documentary style fiction films are released, but this is one of the few where it actually compliments the youthful chaos that it is capturing. The energy of the insane party is felt through the reactionary cinematography that highlights all the staples of such an event; dancing, drinking, drunken stunts, and drunken hookups, Without it, these clichés might seem much more worn then they appear here.

All of this seems quite complimentary, and it is, but when looking at some of those involved with the film, you can’t help but ask for a bit more intelligence. Michael Bacall, one of the co-screenwriters, previously helped adapt the excellent Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Editor Jeff Groth was been working on top notch TV shows like Community and Entourage, and even Bill Maher’s Religulous. Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover, even produced the film. Even with all this talent on board, something genuine was lost. Perhaps its the lack of attention paid to the acting within the film’s few key emotional scenes. Maybe it’s the utterly annoying inconceivable arrogance of Cooper’s character that nearly sinks any likability he floats upon. Maybe it’s the fact that the film’s flimsy heart is dark, and asks the support of irresponsible teens that don’t learn their much needed lesson. In the age of Jersey Shore and the like, what else should we expect?

Taking all of the mentioned above into consideration, Project X is exactly what it seems to be – a party comedy that beckons the male teen crowd. There’s plenty of skin, an abundance of overused profanity, a big budget hip hop soundtrack, and even a flamethrower. It’s a little loosy-goosy, but there are plenty of well built shocks to keep you locked in. Set your expectations low enough, and you’ll have a good time.

Rating 2.5 stars

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