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Project X Throws A Fun Party Despite Some Flaws

Project X
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall
Warner Bros., 2012

Found footage found its way out of horror and into a superhero movie (Chronicle) and now a raunchy comedy.  From producer Todd Phillips, who could probably live comfortably on The Hangover movies for the rest of his life, this picture is nothing new, except for how impossibly far a full-on rager can be taken if it has no moral center.  In the meantime, however, it’s easy to lean back and just enjoy the show.

It’s easy to see why found footage films have become an increasingly popular way to make movies these days, because we are in the age of YouTube.  We’re living in a world where almost everyone has a camera attached to their phone or has a pocket digital camera that shoots HD video.  And almost every event is captured in some manner and then posted onto the huge video site.  If it’s crazy enough, it might capture a lot of views and become a viral sensation.  So the idea of a party thrown in the YouTube/reality TV era, getting captured by “amateurs,” is something we can easily digest nowadays.

Project X centers on three unpopular friends, Thomas (Thomas Mann), the kid having his 17th birthday, Costa (Oliver Cooper), the friend that always makes trouble who is going to throw Thomas an epic party while his parents are away, and the requisite “McLovin” of the group, JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown).  Costa has an AV kid we see fleetingly named Dax (Dax Flame) document his birthday.  We see a day of school, where Costa tries to recruit the whole school into going to Thomas’ party, we see that Thomas already has a really hot friend, Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton), but he’s clearly in the friend zone…or is he?

The party doesn’t look like it’s going to attract anyone outside of Thomas’ very small circle of friends and two younger kids they’ve hired for security (scene stealing turns from Brady Hender and Nick Nervies, probably the best and wittiest parts of the movie) but suddenly the house is bombarded with hotties, alcohol, and drugs, and there’s a huge pool and hot tub and bounce house.  The epic merriment has begun.

It looks like Thomas has his choice of pretty girls for the evening.  Will it be his longtime friend Kirby, or the alluring never-glanced-at-him-twice-before Alexis (Alexis Knapp)?  The party spins increasingly out of control, his parents start getting calls from the neighbors about a party they never thought he had in him, the cops are getting called…you know the type of movie.  But I’m going to give this party movie higher marks than normal for a few reasons.

One, Thomas is not the typical lame central character (although, he is pretty lame…I’ll get to that in a moment) who sees a party like this go bonkers and then spends the rest of the movie worrying, fretting, yelling, and trying to put an end to it.  He goes with the flow for the most part, after a couple of moments where he is about to be that guy.  After awhile, alcohol and drugs take over and you don’t see him worry much.  But then again, Thomas is definitely not the type of character who deserves two chicks clamoring for his jock.

Another thing I like is that they stay away from the classic “parents are going to get home and see the mess that was made” third act clean-up job.  The characters here have made their bed, and if you’ve seen the trailer you know that any clean-up job better be one of the most over-the-top funniest clean-up jobs in the history of cinema.

Now, there are plenty of things not to like here.  I mentioned Thomas was lame…yeah, he’s lame not because he’s “uncool,” but because we really don’t know what that dude wants.  He’s just being escorted through this movie as that uncool guy and we’re supposed to think he’s cool after the whole thing is said and done, but he never exhibits any qualities, talents, or humor to make us like him.  Costa, meanwhile, is exactly that guy who charmingly annoys through the whole picture.  We’ve seen this schtick forever, but I admit without him, the movie might have fallen completely on its face.

The characters that are great, and perfect where they are, are the two kid security guards.  They often have the quirkiest, funniest scenes.  They pop up in the right spots of the movie, not overused.  But in some ways, I’m regretting not seeing their whole movie.  They’re the most interesting characters by far, and we see very little of them overall.

In the end, this is a fun party movie.  It’s easy to let this one have its flaws because it is for the most part entertaining.

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