Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writer: Michael Bacall (screenplay & story), Matt Drake (screenplay)
Cast: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel
Three high school seniors set out to throw one game-changer of a birthday party at the birthday boy’s house while his parents are away on their anniversary, only to have their party spiral out of control.
A forewarning off the bat: I absolutely hated this movie by the time the credits started rolling. There’s an interesting parallel with how I felt about this movie and how it plays out because I will say that for the first two thirds of the film I was with it; I was enjoying my time and I was having fun. However, once things started to spiral out of control I did a complete one-eighty on this film because of how it ends. But before I get to that I’ll take you through what I did enjoy about the movie—that is, before things unraveled and burned faster than nitrate film.
First off, I understand where this film is being marketed to because it’s a film that wears what it’s promoting on its sleeves. It’s a party film, an event film, and as the film markets itself, a celebration of youth. I get it. I see the appeal in it for the demographic that this movie is aimed at and I went into the movie with that full understanding. I also understand the appeal of the found footage style of filming that this movie implements by getting the audience to feel as if they were there to relive and revisit the awesome party that the three main characters throw.
I do have to say that there were a ton of really funny surprises Project X had in store for its audience. If there’s one thing I really have to credit this film with, it’s hiding a lot of its funniest portions from being revealed in the trailer. Some of the best moments in the film come with the scenes involving the two pictured above. They are genuinely funny to watch and steal every scene they appear in. They also add an interesting element to the film with how they factor into the contributed footage of Project X. Much like Chronicle, they offer different perspectives and angles with the use of their cameras; though admittedly, this movie takes more liberties with cutting the footage to make a more streamlined film.
After the two kids, I’d say the character of Costa is the next biggest highlight of the film. I will say I was a bit divided on his character because he is that overbearing friend that I’m sure most of us had. He was kinda like Jonah Hill in Superbad, except not as sweet and twice a bag of douche. However, a lot of the film’s best lines of dialogue are given to him, and based on that alone he stands out as the film’s funniest character. Oliver Cooper—who plays Costa—is great in the role and really brings the writing by Michael Bacall and Matt Drake to life. However, there are moments in which you have to question how his character is written. It is a question of taste regarding his stereotype in the film more than anything else.
Beyond that, the rest of this film is where it began to fall apart for me. First off, I ended up despising the lead character in Thomas by the end of the film. He’s just such a weak-willed character that gets dragged along for the ride as it spirals out of control. I identified with him early, but as the film progressed I just didn’t care for him anymore. The biggest thing, though, is that for a film trying to give off the vibe of captured events of an actual party, the drama that’s hammered into the film surrounding the main character just took me out of it.
It becomes more and more apparent as the main camera man—Dax—follows Thomas for pretty much the last act of the film. For a party that has so much going on, why he would decide to follow Thomas and record just what was going on between him and the two female characters he attempts to hook up with in the movie just felt shallow. It’s even more insulting when they try to make the cameraman a character and just relegate him to being a weird goth. It’s unlike Chronicle in that they were able to be creative with the camera in said film because of Andrew’s character. But Project X just couldn’t get around to doing the same thing with Dax because of the set reality that this film is trying to sell audiences on.
And then the movie just goes balls-out crazy as it reaches the climax. What once was a film that they were trying to sell me on as actual footage of a real party, quickly snowballed into something that was just complete idiocy. They sort of foreshadow it early in the film, but when you actually see it on screen it just seems plain ridiculous to even conceive something like that would happen or play out that way. To see what was playing on screen and to have the film try and sell me on it as being entertainment left me heated in my seat. Adding insult to injury was the camera work. Watching what was going on during this sequence didn’t help at all because it became unbearable for me to watch along with several other audience members.
All of that just culminated into the biggest mistake of an ending. This is where I had the biggest problem with this movie. After holding a party that incited riots, property damage—including Thomas’ house burning down—as well as nearly half his neighborhood, Thomas pretty much gets the equivalent of a slap on the wrist by his parents. The reaction by the father is one of the most insulting and disgusting things I have ever seen. He gave off a vibe like he was sort of proud of his son even after the mess he’s left him and the entire neighborhood with.
The message that this film just tries to sell its audience pretty much boils down to, “you can wreak all this havoc and destruction you want because it works out all fine if you’re socially determined to be cool by a class of your peers who won’t care for you after you graduate high school.” It’s a disturbing message to put out with a film like this because they don’t have Thomas show any genuine remorse or regret for actions which have negatively affected the lives of so many people. No, what this film does is celebrate and glorify what they did and encourage more parties of such a magnitude without any of the protagonists living up to the consequences.
GO Rating: 0.5/5