Teen-party movie puts X in ex­cess

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS& ENTERTAINMENT -

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.

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