Project X stretches the terms “plot,” “story” and “narrative” so thin it barely qualifies anymore. A group of high school friends decide to throw a birthday party for one of them while his parents are out of town for the weekend. The aim is to make it the wildest, craziest and most epic party ever in order to make themselves popular.
That’s it. There’s essentially nothing else to it, other than a few arbitrary and frankly pathetic attempts at characters arcs or emotional beats. And this would be fine if the characters and party atmosphere were otherwise rewarding. This almost intolerable experience comes complete with people drinking and throwing cups of beer, taking their clothes off, dancing to deafeningly loud music, fighting, dancing, shouting, throwing more drinks… oh, and putting “a midget in an oven,” as one of the main group announces at one point. All for the sake of a great party, eh?
We witness all this via the technique of found-footage and along with the main camera held by a strange member of the group who doesn’t say much, our creeping voyeurism is also aided by the cell phone cameras used by the many, many party goers. Apparently the filmmakers just told everyone to shoot whatever they wanted and then they would edit the best bits together in post-production, which I guess was to help give it a realism and spur-of-the-moment believability. That’s all well and good but the issue is nothing about the film is believable, from the birthday boy’s father being so trusting (has he never watched movies before?) to the ludicrous finale, and pretty much all else in between. I get that it’s supposed to be ridiculous and over-the-top but it shouldn’t mean logic is thrown out the window.
The three leads are basically younger versions of “The Wolfpack” from The Hangover – the straight guy, the peculiar, over-the-top one the others can make fun of and the loud one who wants to party most of all. But the trouble is they don’t have the chemistry and general camaraderie that made The Hangover guys so fun to watch (at least in the first one).
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that producer Todd Phillips directed that surprise hit. However, where The Hangover put a twist on its frat-boy storyline and humour by showing us the aftermath, Project X shows us exactly what happens during its wild night and as it turns out that’s an infinitely less interesting road to take.
The movie takes the term “assault on the senses” to a whole new level, which is obviously the point, but unless you’re the type of person who likes these sort of parties it’s just going to irritate. Crass, obnoxious, sexist, and relentlessly repetitive, Project X is the type of movie that you can tell the people involved probably had a lot more fun making it than any audience watching who are not in the target teenage boy demographic. An utter headache of a movie.