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'Project X' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

By

Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper and Thomas Mann in 'Project X.'

Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper and Thomas Mann in 'Project X.'

© Warner Bros Pictures
What's the point of reviewing Project X? High school kids will go no matter what, and anyone else paying to see it isn't going for any other reason that to see a bunch of teens drinking and taking drugs, hot naked women, and the total destruction of the party-thrower's house. You're not plopping down $10 or whatever to see a potential Oscar nominee, first-rate acting, riveting dialogue, or a plot that has more to it than the simple premise of 'a party gets out of control.' Watch the trailer and you know exactly what you're getting with Project X: a mindless party movie with no socially redeeming aspects, shot as if it's a documentary.
The film's footage is supplied by one main 'documentary camera man,' supplemented by footage that's supposed to look like it's been shot on cell phones by partygoers. So, yeah, it's shaky cam to the extreme. But who cares, right? It's just a big, dumb party movie and it's not supposed to be taken seriously. There is no plot other than three outsiders (played by newcomers Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper, and Thomas Mann) want in with the cool kids and go about upping their social status by throwing a killer party. That's all fine and dandy, but even dumb party movies can be well-written and feature characters we give a damn about. That's most definitely not the case with Project X, which opts instead to give us one decent guy and a female character (played by Kirby Bliss Blanton) who seems genuinely interesting, but then surrounds them with a bunch of people you wouldn't want to party with unless you're completely desperate.
If you're considering seeing Project X because it looks like an R-rated John Hughes film and you really miss John Hughes, or because it looks like a rowdier version of Superbad, then you'll be sorely disappointed. This isn't a hardcore version of a Hughes film nor is it as smart as Superbad.

Stuffing a dwarf in an oven, penis punching, dildo-sniffing, and a psycho with a flame-thrower torching homes - Project X gets mean fairly quickly and never pulls back. Yet while the filmmakers obviously want us to believe their pushing the limits and seem to think no way will we be expecting what's coming next, it's all so very, very predictable in the end. Too many of the scenes play out like twists on other party movies (a scene with the threesome in charge of the party up on their roof surveying what they have wrought feels way too Almost Famous-ish). There are some laughs in Project X, and for the first half hour it had a lot of promise, but then just as with the wild party at the center of the film, Project X spirals out of control, culminating in a finale that does a complete 180 in terms of tone. And the ending's a complete letdown, even for a film that has as little substance to it as this one does.

GRADE: C+

Project X was directed by Nima Nourizadeh, produced by Todd Phillips, and is rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem-all involving teens.

Theatrical Release: March 2, 2012

This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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