Three high school also-rans decide to increase their social standing by throwing a party for one of their birthdays. Thomas’s parents are going away for the weekend and along with pals Costa and J.B., they concoct a plan to host the ultimate party that will never be forgotten. Inevitably, the party soon gets out of hand and over the course of the mercifully short film, escalates to unprecedented levels of mayhem and lands them all in a lot of trouble. Plot-wise, that’s really about it. I mean, there’s a slight romantic angle between Thomas and a hot girl from his school, but even that’s a little tacked on. The central thrust is a big party, lots of people, debauchery, and police. Wafer thin plots aren’t always a bad thing, but you better back it up with some directorial flair, solid acting and a strong story. Project X however, fails on all three counts.
It’s very apparent that director Nourizadeh has a background in music videos as the vast majority of the film looks exactly like a standard MTV offering only with slightly drunker dancers and the odd snippet of dialogue thrown in as a token gesture. The found footage trick wears thin very quickly and by the third or fourth time he cuts to a montage of gyrating scantily clad girls and leering boys, it’s fairly grating. The party is undeniably epic in scale and there are a couple of moments which are mildly amusing, but there simply isn’t enough there to drag out over the course of a feature film. It’s a 30 minute sitcom episode at best.
As for the three young leads, they are all fairly unlikeable if truth be told. Spoiled, obnoxious and unrelentingly self-involved, they come across as second rate Superbad clones and represent the very worst elements of young rich teenagers. They are utterly charmless and rarely generate any laughs. One phrase which has been used a lot in press coverage of this film is ‘mean-spirited’ and that couldn’t be more on the button. Costa especially just comes across as an all round terrible human being. He is clearly playing the ‘Jonah Hill’ role, and is such a painfully annoying character that you feel absolutely no sympathy for him at all. He is the most repugnant of the bunch and is that rare beast, a character with absolutely no redeeming qualities.
In another world you would be rooting for these precocious young teens who just want to have a good time. You’d want to see them stick it to the man and have one big crazy night. Here though the teens are all so vacuous, selfish and most criminally perhaps for a comedy movie, unfunny, you just don’t care when things spiral out of control.
Perhaps the most worrying element of the whole shebang though is the highly questionable moral at the story’s centre, which is basically, achieve popularity at all costs. Don’t worry about the consequences and the repercussions it may have on your family, your neighbours or even your own future, just become popular and everything is right with the world. Homes are destroyed, cars set on fire and college funds lost in order to pay for the damage, but hey, as long as the cool kids say hello to you in the corridors now, everything is a-ok.
I really enjoyed previous Phillip’s offerings like The Hangover, Old School and Road trip and I’m a big fan of the majority of Apatow comedies too. I even have a guilty love of Van Wilder: Party Liason. My point here being that I have no problem whatsoever with raucous and often juvenile comedy. It does however need to be funny and Project X simply is not. A thoroughly un-entertaining movie which does nothing but make you dislike spoiled teenagers even more.