A lot of what makes Project X successful lives in our willingness to embrace airy antics and youthful abandon while letting loose a little bit. It’s easier if you embrace your expectations, acknowledge them and then leave them at the door for one night. This is not an original film or even a grand idea. This is high concept, low shoulder which translates to bare bones basics, one sentence premises with clear and present plots that usually start out with a handful of characters plotting and scheming for short term gains and end up with long term pains. First time director Nima Nourizadeh operates on a script by Michael Bacall and Matt Drake off a story by Bacall with production magic by Todd Phillips who gained fame with The Hangover. This is a much more modest, but no less adventurous Hangover without the road trip and monkey and Zach Galifianakis. Essentially Project X taps into our obsession with the crazy things we do in the name of getting away from the things that ail us – like our senses.
A lot of reviews I’ve read seem to have missed the point of this movie entirely. It’s actually pretty easy, there really is no point. This is ridiculousness for the sake of high concept for the sake of another teen movie ala Jackass and Animal House and a dozen others all striving for the ultimate goal of accomplishing nothing more than entertainment. It’s less tribute, hardly homage, and mostly it’s one long night of setups and payoffs the way Nascar races are pit stops and crashes, yellow flags and red flags. Every once in a while they throw up another colored flag to signal time has passed the same way Project X raises the stakes by moving from putting a car in the pool to a crazy guy with a jet pack flame thrower setting the neighborhood on fire. This is spectacle and if you let yourself you might find the funny if you just sit down and shut up and enjoy the ride.
What’s the movie about? The movie’s about the coolest, craziest party ever – but don’t try this at home, reads the warning label. Apparently it didn’t work as the movie spawned actual parties. Three kids find themselves on the rock face of adolescence clinging on for life and limb, desperately hoping to find manhood-dom by any means necessary. If one of the main characters had been a girl most likely there would have been some attention to womanhood-dom, but that’s another story. In this story three pretty average, awfully hopeful guys get tired of waiting for opportunity and notoriety to come along so they give things a little nudge. They plan and execute the mother of all block parties that escalates to new heights of crowd control, lack of control, all out assault on suburbia with collateral damage and then some. It’s not that we don’t see the airy setups and pranks a mile away or that the cast of usual suspects assembled is surprisingly not unique or very original. But that’s part of what the filmmakers were looking for, characters that fit in, actors that look like their audiences. Debauchery can, and often does look and sound like this and for all the stuff we’ve seen before, the familiar bits and overdone parts, there’s also real onscreen chemistry between the three main characters in subtle and simplistic ways. Not everything has to be in your face to be in your face.
Project X is another teen coming of age story enlivened by party craziness and off beat humor that amounts to simple, escapist joy. The characters in the film finally find salvation in the end, albeit conveniently and if for no other reason, nestled there in the denouement. There are few redeeming qualities, few messages about doing the wrong things and correcting them or learning life lessons other than, “don’t do this unless you want to be paying for it for the rest of your life”. The characters are mean to one another but their friendship is there, we’re given many opportunities to see it – warts and all. There is no other ending for a film that begins and ends with a party about people coming for a little while before the rest of their life sets in. Maybe the best advice to anyone uncertain about watching this movie is they should think of it like all those early years of our life that are filled with cherished memories and all that other stuff. Project X will not appeal to everyone but for everyone else, let this movie in and get away for a little.
Project X looks and sounds pretty good, especially by way of the Blu-ray which in the case of the combo pack provides you with every possible version of the movie. You get a Blu-ray disc,DVD, Ultraviolet digital download and a ton of special features and bonus materials. In addition this is the #XTENDEDCUT “To the break of dawn, yo!” version not seen in theaters to put even more fun in the funny. Special features only found on Blu-ray include Project Xpensive: Tallying up the damages, a fun visual assessment of the cost of the damages portrayed in the movie. Project X: Declassified, a behind the scenes look at the craziness.
Warner Home Video, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., invited me to join their exclusive Blu-ray Elite Movie Review Program and they sent me a complimentary copy of this movie for the purpose of review with special attention on the “Blu-ray Experience”. I received this video for free, but that does not sway this review or the reviews of other films that will follow.