Teen-party movie puts X in excess
PROJECT X Starring Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton. Screenplay by Michael Bacall and Matt Drake, directed by Nima Nourizadeh. 88 minutes, R18 (sexual themes, drug use, offensive language), showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua. Though my memories of high school house parties have diminished over time, I don’t recall – even on the warmest Hawke’s Bay evening – girls stripping off and leaping into the swimming pool.
Nor do I remember any boy thinking a sign next to the pool saying ‘‘ Naked girls only’’ would actually work. Maybe I hung out with the wrong crowd.
Project X, a movie about the ultimate high school party, occupies a perverse cinematic space where authentic adolescent experiences are mashed-up with a cynical vision of teen utopia.
Obnoxious, sex- crazed Costa (Oliver Cooper) is determined to throw his buddy Thomas (Thomas Mann) a monster birthday bash, in the hopes it may lift their nonexistent social status at school, or at least help them get laid. Thomas’ parents are going away, their house has a big backyard and Costa posts an open invitation on Craig’s List. Cue insanity in the suburbs.
We view the party preparations and the debauchery that ensues largely via the shaky camera work of Dax ( Dax Flame), who is filming the day’s events.
Project X is basically Superbad meets Cloverfield, where the unstoppable monster is teen hormones and self-absorption.
Rich white kids calling each other ‘‘dawg’’ does little to temper the aggravation, nor does the annoying Costa, whose hyperactive potty- mouth out- cringes Jonah Hill’s Superbad efforts.
The film uses its faux- documentary style and starless cast – refreshingly, plain teenage boys actually look like plain teenage boys – to provide an edge of realism and a cocky middle-finger to more timid or moral teen movies of the past – Can’t Hardly Wait and American Pie come to mind.
But this edge is dulled by the surrender to genre trappings; all the girls are babes, all the adults idiots, and you know dad’s sports car in the garage is going to need some bodywork by the film’s end.
Mann is likeable as the sweet, dorky Thomas who doesn’t know whether to freak out when his folks’ house is overrun by gatecrashers, get freaky with the hottest girl in school ( Alexis Knapp) or reveal to childhood friend Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton) that he’s crazy about her.
The latter was the only story thread to hold my interest – unfortunately it only consists of about three scenes.
Screenwriter Michael Bacall wowed me with Scott Pilgrim Vs the World, but I don’t get the point of Project X beyond it pushing the teen- party movie genre to its limits of excess, profanity and absurdity.
Mission accomplished on that front. We see a dwarf stuffed into an oven, a dog floating away under a bunch of balloons, hundreds of tabs ecstasy tabs tongued, and more breasts bared than beers bombed.
It’s a heady experience and there are laughs, but parties are to be experienced not observed. Why make an R18 teen movie when the scope of the picture’s appeal is largely limited to 15-year-old boys?
Project X parties harder than any of John Hughes’ teen flicks from the 80s, and it is a more brutal depiction of the teenage appetite for sex and booze than Superbad, but it has no heart and can’t come up with anything to say about Gen- Y beyond ‘‘ kids today know how to party’’.
Wasted: The adage that it is more fun to participate than observe is one of the few things that ring true in faux-documentary Project X, in which Costa (Oliver Cooper), Thomas (Thomas Mann) and JB (Jonathan Brown) throw the ultimate house party.