Title: Project X
Directed By: Nima Nourizadeh
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Brady Hender, Nick Nervies, Alexis Knapp, Miles Teller
Forget the videogames that have your kids blowing people’s heads off; keep your teens away from Project X. Once you’re past your partying prime, Nima Nourizadeh’s directorial debut is a safe watch, but for those feeling out the high school party scene, this movie will only fill their minds with bad and ludicrous ideas. But then that begs the question, who is Project X even for? Really only a select few who can find enjoyment in an experience more than a story, and an experience that moves simply by showing you outlandish jaw dropping behavior. Well, I guess I have one foot in that demographic.
In honor of Thomas’ (Thomas Mann) birthday, his best buddy, Costa (Oliver Cooper), insists on throwing the biggest party ever. It just so happens that both Thomas’ birthday and his parents’ anniversary are on the same day and they’re heading out of town to celebrate, leaving their lovely Pasadena home free for the taking. A reluctant Thomas, an overzealous Costa and their friend JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) set out to host the wildest night of their high school careers, a party that’ll undoubtedly go down in history and put them at the top of the social ladder.
The basic premise of Project X is one we’ve seen time and time again – school losers striving to make names for themselves. And, of course, our main trio consists of the typical misfits – the sweet geek Thomas, the trash talker Costa and the unassuming third wheel JB. Sounds a lot like Superbad, right? Yes, the guys really do fit right into that mold, but there’s nothing wrong with that, as they’re really just vessels to take us through the film’s big star, the party.
We’ve all been to our fair share of wild parties, but this one is pretty outrageous. However, oddly enough, most of the late-night absurdities feel quite plausible. No, a party of over 1,000 can’t hide from the cops, an event with music booming that loud would have been shut down in an instant and there’s absolutely no way a bash that wild wouldn’t have resulted in at least a death or two, but, generally, the night feels authentic.
While the found footage style does have quite a lot to do with this, it’s also to blame for one of Project X’s biggest pitfalls; it makes you dizzy. As a big fan of the shaky cam technique, I was shocked to find my head legitimately spinning within 20 minutes. (Then again, perhaps that added to the sense of realism as well because once the actual party kicks off, the film is overflowing with drugs and booze.) The main view comes from Dax (Dax Flame), a goth kid Costa recruited to film their epic night. As far as coverage goes, the camera’s quite successful, but it does take the shaky in shaky cam a bit too far.
The filmmakers also take some liberties when it comes to viewpoints. Project X opens with a disclaimer regarding the people who submitted footage for the film, so it was pretty obvious that some inexplicable camera views were on the way. While the large majority of the footage does come from Dax’s camera, we do shift to material shot by the party’s pint-sized security team, Everett and Tyler (Brady Hender and Nick Nervies), and some helicopter shots. Those are easy to pinpoint, but there are a few scenes in the film that’ll make you wonder who’s got a handle on the camera and a few others that don’t even feel like found footage, rather shots from a professional grade camera.
Regardless, Project X has a flow that’s unstoppable. The film is relentless from beginning to end, particularly when it comes to Costa’s potty mouth. He’s a guy with no filter whatsoever and while he does seem like he can become quite irritating, Costa’s outbursts are almost all pretty funny courtesy of Cooper’s spot on timing. Another one of Project X’s driving forces is the music. In fact, about 15 minutes of the film really is just a music video. Sure, that makes it rather light on plot, but it does serve a purpose by making you feel like you’re part of the party.
Is Project X a good movie? No, not really, but it isn’t even trying to be a movie. Project X is more of an experience and while that experience is most certainly not for everyone, and probably not the majority, if you dream of attending the wildest party ever, which is essentially impossible, Project X will suffice.