Project X (2012)

Project X is a detestable, mind-emptying affair that bathes in excess and nonsense. For some, this sort of thing is ideal entertainment. For others, this Nima Nourizadeh-directed movie is an incessant siege of misogyny, homophobia, teen alcohol and drug use, monotonous nudity (not always a bad thing), and bullying.

Project X is presented as home video footage of an “awesome party” and came to pass after producer Todd Phillips and the production team shared stories of great parties they’d attended. The goal was a sort of experiment to capture the “gnarliest high school party ever” and writer Michael Bacall went to town with no upper limit on his ideas.

What we end up with is a pretty conventional plot involving three main characters and the party they throw. Thomas (Thomas Mann) is celebrating his birthday. He is an affluent white kid in an affluent neighbourhood and his parents have given him the mini-van for his birthday present. Naturally, he complains. Luckily, Thomas’ parents are going away for their anniversary and leaving him with his friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) to plan the most epic party ever.

The kids advertise the party throughout school in an effort to get as many girls there as possible. They also head to a drug dealer (Rick Shapiro) to get some pot and wind up stealing a gnome that the dealer wants back badly. The party gets way out of hand after thousands of people show up. The neighbourhood gets trashed and the police are called in their riot gear to handle things. What fun!

Through some current events as of late, we’ve seen large crowds get out of hand and police have been called in. The Vancouver riots, for instance, were an example of an alcohol-fuelled swarm of douchebags getting way, way out of hand. Project X celebrates these instances, hastily showcasing thousands of spoiled kids getting drunk and high and breaking stuff for the hell of it.

For some, this sort of thing may be a thrill. For those of us who aren’t plagued by a mental condition, it’s a bit of a turn-off. There’s nothing endearing about the three “protagonists” at all. Costa, in particular, may be one of the most loathsome characters put to film as he curses out a cashier and objectifies every single female he comes in contact with. His sleaziness is not appealing, his ceaseless homophobia is not funny and his bullying behaviour is nauseating.

There is also the forced romantic angle. Thomas has had his eye on his good friend Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton) for some time and “really, really likes her.” Unfortunately for the potential pair, Costa wants Thomas to set his eyes on a much larger prize in Alexis (Alexis Knapp). Alexis is the “hottie” of the picture and, lucky for the fumbling Thomas, she wants him. Alcohol does funny things, I guess.

This is the sort of movie where the characters are so hateful and distasteful that the only wish for a happy ending is for bad things to happen to them. Sadly, the flamethrower guy only damages the property of blameless neighbours and Thomas winds up being popular after the party. The other consequences don’t matter because, hey, that was an awesome party.

Hollywood has gone to the well of the teenage party before and has done okay with the concept. Superbad, for instance, gave us characters we could actually like and raunchiness that was actually amusing. Project X, on the other hand, offers a pitiful pageant of opulent morons rejoicing in emptiness, stupidity and even bouts of animal cruelty. It is, by all accounts, a horror movie if this is to be our future.

Trailer:

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