Title: Project X
Reviewed for Shockya by Harvey Karten
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Screenwriter: Matt Drake, Michael Bacall
Cast: Thomas Mann, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper, Dax Flame, Nichole Bloom
Screened at: AMC Empire, NYC, 2/29/12
Opens: March 2, 2012
It’s better to be rich than poor. It’s better to be young than old. If you’re that last person in America who does not believe it, you’d do well to take in Nima Nourizadeh’s movie “Project X.” As written with a few gems of dialogue by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall, “Project X” comes across like a pre-college orientation program: if you can handle the mayhem at one of the country’s most active high-school parties, you’re ready to convert your college fraternity into an animal house less than a year down the road. Coincidentally, this is director Nima Nourizadeh’s “freshman” production, one which bodes well for future descriptions of mayhem. In fact if Mr. Nourizadeh were able to smuggle his cast to Damascus to repeat the party they’d held in North Pasadena, California, President Bashar al-Assad would run for his life faster than Libya’s Qaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam.
As much an ode to friendship and young male bonding as it is a graphic description of an insane party that would lead to wrecked cars, destroyed swimming pools and entire housing, “Project X” takes us into the hormone-crazed minds of Thomas (Thomas Mann), J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and Costa (Oliver Cooper). Of the three, J.B. is known for rotundity, Thomas for dweebness, and Costa for his gift of gab. Thomas, in fact, is such a timid dude that even his rich dad tells his own wife that their son is “a loser.” He is about to prove dad wrong on his 17th birthday shortly after mom and dad take off for the weekend with instructions to take all phone calls and go to bed early.
Though Thomas is his passive self, allowing Costa to arrange for festivities, Thomas is stunned by the number of people who show up, a population estimated at 1,500 based on Costa’s use of the Internet, person-to-person invitation, and allegedly an ad on Craig’s list. The girls are all hot (this is California) and the guys, who are in various stages of looks and personality, have three things on their minds: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll. Duh. To one extent or another, with the help of Ecstasy, they achieve their goals.
Some of the gems of dialogue: when rotund J.B. tells his two best pals that he’s working on his sexual techniques (graphically illustrated by his fist), Costa corrects him—”The only thing you’re working on, you fat …., is diabetes!” When a pair of cops show up after a neighbor files a noise complaint, Costa, obviously a budding law student, informs them that they cannot enter the premises (by law) and they may not enter the premises (lacking permission). During the police intervention, the area becomes strangely silent as the entire entourage have shifted to the back of the house around the pool, lips tightly zipped.
The party is said to have been inspired by an actual shindig in Australia wherein a notice on MySpace led to a guest list exceeding five hundred. Their $20,000 worth of damage there pales when compared to Pasadena’s, however, because Americans know how to do things big time. The principal drawback is that since the party is being videotaped by Dax (Dax Flame), one of the young guests, the camera shakes almost throughout to the point of potential audience nausea. Enjoy the show and don’t take to the theater anything stronger than a Pepto Bismol.
Rated R. 88 minutes (c) 2012 by Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online
Story – B+
Acting – B+
Technical – C
Overall – B