June 2, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 90°F


‘Project X’: Comedy commits party foul

The scenario: Unsupervised teenagers decide to have a party. Logical conclusion: Things spiral out of control. Director Nima Nourizadeh’s film “Project X” is all about predictability, going for the obvious again and again — and  the film doesn’t seem to be ashamed of itself.

Thomas (Thomas Mann) is the stereotypical unpopular high school kid, and it’s his birthday. Luckily for him, he has his horrifyingly misogynistic, obnoxious best friend, Costa (Oliver Cooper), by his side to help him throw an epic birthday rager to increase his BFF’s popularity, with their even more stereotypical overweight friend J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) in tow. The whole film is shot from the perspective of another high school kid, Dax (Dax Flame of YouTube), who documents the party from its planning stages to its destructive finish in a poor attempt at a documentary style.

A hyped-up endeavor for producer Todd Phillips, director of “The Hangover,” the film blatantly targets a young male audience. Anything one might expect a typical, one-dimensional teenage boy to be attracted to shows up tenfold in this film — naked girls who are falling over themselves to have sex with high school boys, a seemingly endless supply of alcohol and drugs, flamethrowers, explosions and law enforcement that for some reason is incapable of shutting down a high school party.

The most disturbing aspect of the film comes in its sexism and its
underestimation of the audience’s intelligence. Or perhaps not — Costa’s line repeated throughout the movie that the girls coming to the party better “wear something tight” gets an appalling number of laughs from the audience. The friends place a sign by the swimming pool that reads “naked girls only,” and the young ladies are evidently more than happy to oblige. Frequent, lengthy close-up shots of girls’ bodies resulted in much glee from the mostly male audience. Instead of portraying teen partying realistically, the filmmakers went for shock value, a cheap shot requiring no depth from anyone involved.

Perhaps equally distressing was the underlying action posing poorly as a storyline in which Thomas falls for his best girl friend, Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton), the only character who appears to have any sense throughout the entire film. When Kirby walks in on Thomas and the token hot girl, Alexis (Alexis Knapp), she angrily flees the party. Yet any merit Kirby would have earned as a character is totally lost at the end of the film. Kirby sends the message that sure, she’ll forgive the kid who burned down his entire neighborhood, as long as he tells her that she is all he cares about before the credits roll.

In fact, none of the actors seem to exert themselves whatsoever, and the writing is at times disgusting, and Costa’s immature jokes are just one instance of this. In the opening scenes, it was almost unclear whether the film was actually taking itself seriously. Unfortunately, it became clear that the film was not making fun of itself at all.

“Project X” was a missed opportunity to more creatively parody the usual high school party. Instead, it was a misguided and disconcerting movie that throws all other factors of a good film out the window.