by Michelle McGlynn
Project X is a film about three young boys attempting to become cool in the eyes of their classmates by throwing an unforgettable party. They succeed in this quest. Project X is a film that desperately wants its audience to consider it cool. It does not succeed in this.
Thomas (Thomas Mann) is turning seventeen. Luckily, his birthday coincides with his parent’s wedding anniversary so they are going on a romantic getaway for the weekend. Thomas wants to have a small party, “just big enough to be cool” and “no more than fifty people”. His friend Costa (Oliver Cooper), and to a lesser extent his friend JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), have a different idea. They bully him into making things a little bit bigger, but never reveal just how big the party is going to be. Costa has told everybody at school, excluding freshmen, put it up on Facebook, rang into a radio station and put it up on Craigslist. The party eventually tops 1,500, exceeding even Costa’s expectations. The crowd gets out of hand, not surprising considering they hired two twelve-year-olds (Brady Hender and Nick Nervies) as their security. The party turns out to be one that no one will ever forget, and not just because they hired a “goth freak” to film the entire thing.
The film opens with a title card thanking those who contributed footage and apologizing to the City of Pasadena and the audience for the images they are about to witness. By thanking people for contributing footage the film is establishing that the events to follow are ‘real’. While the apology to the people of Pasadena and the audience is an attempt to establish how hardcore the film will be. In reality, this film requires a genuine apology at the end for subjecting audiences to a crude, abrasive, misogynistic film which is painfully unfunny and has no real redeeming qualities. The plot is paper thin and is filled with underdeveloped characters. Evidently these were done away with to make more room for party montages of topless girls, people making out, people drinking/doing drugs/vomiting and countless up-skirt shots.
The many mistakes made in Project X could potentially be forgiven if it had some likable characters. There is no one to root for, no one to connect with and as a result you really could not care what happens to any of them. In Superbad we had Fogell/McLovin. In Project X there is Costa. What differentiates these two characters is that Costa has not even a single moment of redemption throughout the entire movie. He is offensive, abrasive and irritating and nothing more. If this was a source of humor in the film it might work, but it is not at all funny. Instead of laughing, you genuinely want to cause him physical pain.
In terms of performance there is not much to speak of. The only people worth mentioning are Hender and Nervies, the two young boys who provide security for the party. They provide the only two or three mild laughs of the film as they get really intense about their security duties.
Perhaps there should be an honorable mention for Kirby Bliss Blanton, who plays Thomas’ longtime friend Kirby. Kirby manages to keep all of her clothes on for the film and generally not degrade herself. As one of the only girls in this film to achieve this, her parents should be proud.
As the end credits roll, you are likely to find yourself wondering why you just sat through Project X. Our advice: save yourself this confusion, your time and your money. Stay at home and watch Superbad and Animal House.