Project X (DVD)
THE HANGOVER's Todd Phillips produces this debauched comedy from writers Matt Drake and Michael Bacall. The story concerns a group of friends who deci...
3 reviews from the community
Review of "Project X (DVD)"
All of my DVD reviews are film only, so do not include pricing information. If you have time, please read and rate my Batman V Superman review.
Thomas is a nobody at his high school. But his buddy Costa is determined to change that. When Thomas’ parents go away for the weekend, Costa convinces his best mate to throw a birthday party to end all parties. Little do they know what they are letting themselves in for, as hundreds of teenagers descend on the heretofore sleepy suburb. There are oceans of booze, dozens of scantily-clad girls and a feeling that anything goes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise when the cops are called, a dwarf ends up in the oven and a car is driven into the pool…
Sometimes you come across a movie so bad, it’s actually good. Then you come across others which are simply awful in every conceivable way. Sadly “Project X” falls into the latter category. I went into the movie knowing absolutely nothing about it other than the fact it was produced by Todd Phillips, the bloke who directed “The Hangover” and “Old School”. Yet still I managed to come out of the cinema feeling cheated. It comes as no surprise that this is Nima Nourizadeh’s first film as a director, as he makes every possible mistake. First of all the film has zero production values. It is based on a found footage format that means the movie is shot by participants in the story. Cue dozens of different film grades, shaky hand-held cameras, fuzzy footage shot on camera phones and rough pans and zooms that threaten to give you motion sickness at times. The inclusion of fake news reports on the incident does nothing, other than glamorise the destruction. The locations are anonymous, but so are the protagonists, who have been ripped straight from the pages of the Hollywood high school movie playbook. And the director doesn’t bother to develop them into believable, likeable human beings at any point. So it is impossible to care about them at any juncture. They come across as crass, selfish stereotypes with no respect for themselves, others or anybody’s property. The performances amp up the raging hormones and completely dial down the common sense. Nobody every questions the escalating destruction or tries to do anything to stop it. So it goes without saying that there is a huge emotional hole at the centre of the production. We have no real idea who the players are before the party and they don’t seem greatly changed by the whole enterprise, begging the question of why the film was made (other than the fact that Todd Phillips bankrolled it).
But by far the biggest problem with the film is that there is no story. Much of the running-time is filled with montages of attractive young people getting hammered, getting high or getting naked. There are lots of gratuitous up-skirt shots and topless girls, bizarre sights such a dwarf being bundled into an oven and a dog floating beneath a bunch of helium balloons. A random drug dealer turns up with a flamethrower and the police get involved. But none of this constitutes a story, it’s just a series of disjointed events that did nothing other than predispose me to hating the characters. There is no dramatic impetus, so I spent an awful lot of time looking at my watch. Matters aren’t helped by a meandering pace. Despite a modest running-time of only eighty-eight minutes, the film seemed to stretch on forever.
The screenplay (if it can be called that) by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall is nothing more than a slice of male adolescent wish fulfilment made flesh. People get drunk, get high, jump off the roof, get off with random strangers, zap a neighbour with a taser, drive a car into a swimming pool, attack the police and set fire to a neighbourhood. And they do it all without moral consequences. In fact the message of the movie appears to be that burning down your house, hacking off your neighbours and getting a police record are all worth it for fleeting fame within the halls of your school and some grudging respect from your father. There is also the minor lesson that girls are stupid enough to take you back when they see you getting naked with another woman, as long as you say sorry. There is no story to speak of – just a series of contrived events inelegantly stapled together.
The characterisation is negligible. Daily Mail journalists would have a field day with the unsympathetic young protagonists who do nothing but confirm all the bad press teenagers have had in the past few years. Thomas is the birthday boy, who is too weak-willed to peak up against the destruction being wrought on his home. He simply goes along with everything his best friend arranges, in the hopes of becoming popular. Said best mate is the loud-mouthed, coarse, rude, sexist, insensitive, pushy and whiny Costa, who is a dick of the first order. Within seconds of seeing him, I would have happily punched him in the face. The central trio is completed by tubby JB, who mainly hangs around on the periphery, not adding much to the story. Of the remaining characters, concerned householder Rob is painted as the villain for daring to ask the kids to keep the noise down, Kirby is Thomas’ underdeveloped love interest and T-Rick is a crazed drug dealer. The nearest the writers come to character development is in a series of on-screen epilogues during the end credits. But by that point I hated the characters too much to care about what happened to them. The dialogue is relatively naturalistic, but is riddled with dozens of expletives, sexist comments and sexual references. And as we all know, swearing is neither big nor clever.
Thomas Mann plays the imaginatively named Thomas as a slightly neurotic teen, without the balls to make anything of his life. He blithely goes with the flow, without ever standing up to those who are potentially going to make his life hell. Oliver Cooper is entirely hateful as Costa – a thoroughly unpleasant specimen whose attitudes to everyone other than himself are entirely reprehensible. Jonathan Daniel Brown has little to do as JB, other than act drunk and go along with whatever is happening. But he doesn’t leave much of an impression. Kirby Bliss Blanton is the usual Hollywood totty girl-next-door – way out of the lead’s league, but still bound to end up with him.
The film doesn’t feature any original music. Instead the producers rely on generic hardcore dance tracks and a lot of rap with misogynistic lyrics. Tracks like “Bitch Betta Have My Money” give you some idea of the quality we’re talking about. Artists including NAS, A-Trak, Kid Cudi and Eminem’s back-up band D-12 all feature. But the only track I’d willingly listen to again is Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Heads Will Roll”. Admittedly the music suits the style of the movie and the attitudes of the characters, but it is really not my cup of tea.
The only thing I can possibly say in favour of “Project X” is that it at least has an 18 certificate. This will hopefully prevent those young enough and stupid enough to try to emulate the events portrayed within from seeing the film legally. Sadly I suspect it will become a cult classic amongst fifteen year-old boys once it hits DVD. The direction is directionless, the writing is meandering and pointless and the performances do nothing other than give young people a bad name. In light of the subject matter and the riots of 2011, I’m surprised the BBFC even gave it a certificate. But on the plus side, I’m sure the terrible reviews and bad word of mouth it is getting may dissuade anyone in their right mind from seeing it. If you aren’t in your right mind and you do watch it, I cannot be held responsible for the relentless boredom you will suffer. I’m only giving it a one-star rating because I don’t have the option of giving it none.
Product Information : Project X (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionTHE HANGOVER's Todd Phillips produces this debauched comedy from writers Matt Drake and Michael Bacall. The story concerns a group of friends who decide to hold a house party to increase their social standing. What begins as a regular high school booze fest soon descends into anarchy when the police turn up to shut them down... all of which is captured on home video, in all its depraved glory.
Listed on Ciao since: 22/12/2011