Project X - SideReel Review
Project X is a found-footage-style teenage comedy that centers on a group of 17-year-olds who document a house party that quickly goes wrong. The film is shot in the vein of a home video and it captures the adolescent high jinks of the Millennial generation, for whom camera phones and YouTube are as much a part of life as dating and learning to drive. Project X was not intended to be the title of the film, as it was only used as a temporary placeholder on scripts, but the name was kept as a marketing tool to entice its target audience. The film isn’t overly complicated in terms of either concept or execution, but what works in Project X is that feeling that something really dangerous can happen when leaving your teenager home alone for the weekend -- or from the teenager’s perspective, something really epic.
The story centers on three high-school nobodies -- Thomas (Thomas Mann) a sweet-natured average Joe, Costa (Oliver Cooper), a cocky party-animal wannabe, and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) , a tubby nerd -- who plan and throw the ultimate 17th-birthday party for Thomas and make a name for themselves among the seemingly impenetrable popular crowd at school. The party continues to grow bigger and bigger, until everything suddenly spirals out of control and descends into total chaos. To add to the drama, the entire bash is being recorded for posterity by self-appointed party documentarian Dax (Dax Flame), along with various contributions from partygoers filming events with their phones.
Project X was produced by The Hangover director Todd Phillips, and the film has the same sort of perverse silliness that made the latter such a hit. Originally, the producers wanted a cast with no previous acting credits, and lead actor Thomas Mann (who had only one film credit under his belt) had to audition seven times before he got the role. Director Nima Nourizadeh, along with screenwriters Michael Bacall and Matt Drake, makes an honest effort at creating a legendary high-school party. There are some definite misogynistic undertones aimed at the horny-high-school-boy demographic that the movie is clearly meant for, including gratuitous topless shots and a few inappropriately funny scenes including an angry midget punching people and overzealous middle schoolers who will try anything to get into the party, but frat-boy humor aside, Project X is impressively made and has a style that really does work with this particular genre.