A party no one should go toBy Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Mar. 2, 2012
There are, by my count, only two good jokes in "Project X," a thin, painfully overlong comedy about an out-of-control party thrown by a trio of high-school losers. One is the "story by" credit given to Michael Bacall.
This is funny because there is, almost literally, no story. At least not in the traditional sense that most people think of when they go to the movies. Sure, the party is eventful - an angry little person (Martin Klebba) shows up, along with an angry drug dealer (Rick Shapiro) with a flamethrower - but outrageous incidents alone do not a movie make. A good 75 percent of "Project X" consists of dully repetitive footage, shot with a shaky, hand-held camera, of underage revelers getting drunk and stoned, dancing, shouting and jumping in a swimming pool.
It's the longest Facebook video posting you've ever sat through.
The plot - or, rather, the sequence of events - can be summed up as follows: Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) decide to throw an 18th birthday party for their friend Thomas (Thomas Mann) while Thomas's parents (Caitlin Dulany and Peter Mackenzie) are out of town. Hundreds more people than planned show up, and the house gets trashed.
In between, police show up, girls take their shirts off and some guy vomits. To the extent that there's any real drama, it derives from Thomas's discovery of the mutual attraction he shares with his childhood friend (Kirby Bliss Blanton), who then gets jealous when Thomas attempts a drunken hook-up with another girl (Alexis Knapp).
That's not a story. That's a sentence scribbled on a cocktail napkin.
The film, like the equally lousy "The Virginity Hit" before it, purports to have been assembled from actual documentary footage shot by some dude with a camcorder following Thomas, Costa and JB everywhere. In actuality, it was directed by Nima Nourizadeh, working from a "script" by Bacall and Matt Drake. Todd Phillips (of the "Hangover" films) is the producer.
Don't expect "Hangover"-like plotting or performances though. There are no surprises, switchbacks or suspense, and the young cast, with the exception of Mann, is singularly unlikable.
As for that second joke, it comes halfway into the movie when an adult neighbor (Rob Evors) attempts to shut down the party and ends up getting Tasered by a 12-year-old (Brady Hender) who has been hired as a bouncer. That's not the funny part - or, for anyone older than 21, the only truly satisfying moment in the film.
That comes when the man gets up and clocks the snot-nosed brat in the face.
Contains constant obscenity, underage drinking, drug use, nudity, violence, misogyny, sexual references and assorted misbehavior.