By Monique Hall

A midget in an oven, an airborne dog and a gnome full of drugs… These are just three of the totally out of control catalysts that feature in the about to be released ‘Project X’. It almost sounds like producers stuck different words in a hat and pulled two out to see the craziest, most juxtaposing ideas they could get for this epic Warner Brothers ‘experiment’, which is best described as Cloverfield-meets-frat party.

Just to clarify, no we’re not talking about Matthew Broderick’s 1987 movie ‘Project X’, in which a young military inductee is told to look after some chimpanzees following a mysterious project; although given the primitive nature of most of the characters in 2012’s movie of the same name, we’d forgive you for mistaking the two. 

The brainchild of The Hangover producer Todd Phillips, producer Joel Silver, and first time feature film director Nima Nourizadeh, Project X came from an experimental idea to create the ‘gnarliest high school party of all time’, and the end result is the meticulous edit of 2 million feet of film, captured on eight different camera systems.

The comedy/drama is a perfect example of the new breed of ‘geek coming of age’ movies. Times have changed since the days of the Brat Pack; nowadays you’ve gotta get the party first, before you get the girl. All will then (apparently) fall into place after that. 

Audiences follow Thomas Kub (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) on their quest to ‘change the game’ by throwing a mammoth birthday party for Thomas when his parents go away. I hate to draw comparisons, but the characters seem like a repackaged, spunkier version of Superbad’s famous three; you’ve got the calm steady Michael Cera character, the cocky, confident Jonah Hill-type, and the happy-go-lucky one they take piss out of… albeit slightly chubbier than Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

The three boys end up inadvertently causing the craziest, most guilt-inducing, carnage-fuelled party ‘ever’. The obnoxiously funny Costa, who at times is reminiscent of John Belushi in Animal House with his motivational party speeches, is the driving force of the party’s escalation from bad to disastrous.

 

The movie is cleverly filmed by integrating footage from a home video camera, which odd character Dax (played by real life video blogger Dax Flame) films. First impressions of Dax were similar to Wes Bentley’s camera and plastic bag-obsessed character in American Beauty. The film is also interspersed with phone camera videos, mixed with snippets of mock police footage and news shows. Extras were also given a dozen flip cameras to create the chaotic footage. As a result the audience is thrown into the party; you’re there when things go wrong, and it makes you feel like both party-goer and instigator.

The brilliant thing about Project X is that when you think the party is about to lull, and that the main characters can welcome the typical ‘resolution point’ expected in films, something else breaks out and provides more mayhem than the last mishap, until the house seems to have no redemption – it’s relentless and makes the party in Superbad look like a 5th birthday.

Certain scenes within the film are priceless and original – after all this could have just been a remake of the Hangover with a younger generation – but thankfully it isn’t. The angry midget is a particularly frequent laugh-out-loud mechanic, and the director has timed the reintroduction of the various strange characters the leading trio encounter brilliantly.

Although the Cloverfield-meets-American pie aspect of the film is one of its saving graces – ultimately taking the film somewhere Superbad didn’t go – there are some great ‘cinematic’ shots (if that can be said about a movie that focuses solely on getting laid and boozing), especially when Thomas is on the roof and the audience sees a 360 of the party and the consequential neighbourhood destruction.

There are sadly a few negatives to the film: a soppy and mild love story involving the character ‘Kirby’ doesn’t seem to sit well with the ‘f*** it lets party’ mantra that is the life-force of the film. Also, considering he ends up with his car in his squeaky-clean American swimming pool, Thomas’ dad definitely doesn’t seem pissed off enough. Flaws aside – this is a fun movie, giving teens (and adults) an insight into a party they know they would all love to throw.

The movie’s poster said nothing more than ‘One night will make them legends’; if the success of Superbad’s and The Hangover’s stars are anything to go by, the three lead boys in the film can expect their careers to go sky-high, and become just as famed and loved as their characters in the film.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.