High school party movies are a standard in Hollywood. It’s like someone’s life changes forever after going to one. Can’t Hardly Wait has Ethan Embry trying to confess his love to Jennifer Love Hewitt, Weird Science has Anthony Michael Hall using a computer designed, Kelly LeBrock, to meet up with the snotty rich girls, and American Pie has Jason Biggs trying to get laid. Now, we have the latest and probably the greatest of all the high school party movies: Project X
2012’s Project X is not the chimpanzee pilot movie with Matthew Broderick. It’s the tale of three outsider high school students that crave to be on the inside, even just for one night. Thomas is a shy honor student celebrating his seventeenth birthday while his parents are away for the weekend for their anniversary. The kid has a lot going for him: decent parents, nice house, intelligent. Other than that, the kid has nothing else (even his parents call him a loser). His only friends are Costa, a loud mouth jerk whose brain is located in his penis, and JB, a pudgy nerd who may not be as innocent as you think. Added to the mix is Kirby, Thomas’s only female friend, and Dax, a mysterious student from the Audio/Video Club who's filming the events of Thomas’s birthday.
Since his parents are away, Costa tries to convince Thomas to have a party to celebrate his birthday at his house. And not just any party, an epic party. A Game changer. A party that catapults the three of them amongst the popular kids, and all the hot girls. Thomas reluctantly agrees, as long as there aren’t any more than fifty people there. Costa decides to ignore that request and goes rogue, blasting the whereabouts of the party via email, craigslist and media to any and all yeasayers.
To prep for the party, the three go shopping for supplies; paper towels, red solo cups, whipped cream, chips and weed (just what every high school party needs). Just as the party's about to begin, we meet our other recurring characters, security guards Everett and Tyler, two of the scrawniest guys I’ve ever seen with SECURITY on the back of their jackets. (I used to work security, so I get an extra chuckle at seeing these guys at work). People start to trickle into the party, then it turns into a stream and Thomas starts to panic. As more and more people show up, the party stretches out into the house, the garage, the roof, the front yard and into the streets. It’s the party that Costa always wanted and the party that Thomas always feared. It’s at this point in the film that whatever could go wrong, does go wrong in spades.
Project X starts off with two strikes against it. Number one is originality. There have been several films that feature the “let’s have a party so we can become popular” plot. The other strike is that these characters are pretty stereotypical. We’ve seen the same characters in Superbad. Thomas is the Michael Cera character, Costa is Jonah Hill and JB is Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Exact same type of characters. The only differenceis that you really cared about the guys in Superbad. In Project X-- not so much. I enjoyed Thomas Mann and Jonathan Daniel Brown as Thomas and JB (by the way, most of the characters' names are the actors' real names), but Oliver Cooper as Costa is probably one of the most obnoxious and irritating characters I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. I hated him from the minute he came on camera, and if that was the filmmaker’s intention, they succeeded.
Now, having said that, Project X is probably one of the more outrageous comedies that I’ve seen in a while. It is entirely filmed with hand held digital cameras, cell phones, whatever. These are what you would normally see on Facebook. So instead of calling it a ‘lost footage’ film, let’s call it what it really is: a ‘Facebook’ film. The film, by first time director Nima Nourizadeh, starts off fairly slow with the planning of the big party. But once the guests start arriving, the film goes into overdrive. The comedy comes from the sheer craziness that occurs. Adding to all that is a terrific soundtrack to include tracks from Eminem, Kid Cudi, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs among others. I don’t usually review music, but this soundtrack is an instant party in itself.
I do wish that Project X would have had a more satisfying resolution. As the party peaks, we get everything from little people, flame throwers, SWAT teams, helicopters, Police on horseback and explosions. After all that, it’s pretty much nothing. Sure, we get a quick paragraph as to what happened to each of the main characters. You end the film the same way you started it: hating Costa. Especially since he gets in the last words of the movie. God, I hate that kid.
Project X is one of those movies that the filmmakers put in everything but the kitchen sink to make the film more outrageous. It crosses the line of good taste so many times that I can’t even count. The film tends to put down anyone and everyone. At some point in the film, someone is going to cry foul. The biggest complaint I’ve heard in regards to Project X is the lack of respect towards women. The only reason they are in the film, the argument goes, is to get drunk, take off their tops and to have sex. And yes, I would have to agree with those arguments. But, if we condemn Project X for doing this, we must condemn every film made where the characters just want to meet up with the girls and get laid. We would be going back a long way if we were to do so. Let’s take the film for what it’s worth: a high school comedy that’s not very original and the characters are stereotypical. On the plus side, the film is loaded with laughs, an awesome soundtrack and the most outrageous party ever put on film. Project X is the new generation’s Risky Business.
Project X is presented with a 1080p MPEG-4 video codec and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's recorded on every type of digital video recorder possible. I was anticipating a lot of issues with this transfer, but shockingly, the transfer is very good. Yes, there are moments during the film where the video is recorded on a cell phone and it looks pretty bad, but that’s rare. For the most part, the images look sharp and details are good. Skin tones appear natural. Black levels are great, especially near the end. Shadow dillineation falters some in the party sequences. It gets a little muddy at times. A different camera is used at this time, and you can tell. I was worried about the grain level, and naturally, there is some. Overall it’s an appropriate level, nothing that will distract you from watching the film.
The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track definitely has a lot of bass going for it. If you like hitting the clubs and hearing the thump thump thump of the bass, well then, this is your movie because it's definitely a room rumbler. All speakers are in play here, putting you right in the middle of the party. The rear speakers maintain some subtlety during the pre-party antics, but when things get crazy, they come to life with excellent clarity. Dialogue is crisp and clear from the center channel, and there's excellent directional effects across the front soundstage. This is a powerhouse audio presentation.
For a film made up of shots from numerous video recorders, you would think that there would be decent deleted scenes or a gag reel. Not at all. Perhaps since it’s the “#Xtended to the Break of Dawn, YO” edition, the filmmakers thought none of these were required. They were wrong.
The total time for the extras is about 14 minutes, which really sucks, because these are pretty lame. The studio offers a movie-only version with UltraViolet copy along with the Extended version, which includes extras, DVD and UltraViolet copy. These extras are absolutely worthless and the only thing the extended version adds is extra breast shots. Unless you absolutely need to have the DVD copy or have the need to see more breasts, I would suggest you purchase the BD/UV version.
Project X is one of the wildest comedies to come around the bend in a while. It’s basically a film about nothing more than kids having fun. If there's a film that it compares to, it’s Risky Business. It's not an original story, and the characters have been seen in pretty much every high school movie over the past ten years. It really makes you yearn for the days of John Hughes film.
Picture quality of the film is actually good for all the different types of cameras used. Audio quality is great, especially if you like the subwoofers working overtime. It puts you right in the middle of a rave.
Even with so much going against it, I really enjoyed this film. I laughed my ass off at the theater and it carried over to watching it at home. The first part of the movie drags, but once the film gets into party mode, it's hysterical. I do get in those moods every so often that I would prefer something more visceral over something intellectual, and this movie is as far from intellectual as you can get.