Ladies and gentlemen, the found-footage format has officially taken its nose-dive into the ground. It is with deepest respect that we say adieu and wish it well. It is a foundation that was already built on shaky ground. From the boom ushered in by the likes of The Blair Witch Project to Cloverfield, we can thank the last few months for completely digging a hole to bury these films in. While I am a fan of those films, the quintuple threat of Evil Things, Apollo 18, The Devil Inside, Movie Review: Chronicle (2012), and now this weekend’s Project X, that show us just how badly the format should officially be put to rest. This horse can take no more.
In the opening shot, teenage Costa (Oliver Cooper) invites you to Project X. Along with Dax (Dax Flame) holding the camera, Costa sets out to not only make a historic video for his best friend Thomas’s (Thomas Mann) 17th birthday, but a testimony as to how to ruin your best friend’s life and get away with it (just wait till you see how this thing ends). We get the initial walk through as Dad (Peter Mackenzie) explains to Thomas the house rules we’ve all heard a million times in these party-gone-awry films, while Mom (Caitlin Dulany) frets in the other room, insisting on being overbearing. Have no fear dear Mom as Dad comforts her by letting her know that even he thinks Thomas is a loser and they have nothing to fear.
So alas, Costa embarks on inviting anyone he can see on their high school campus, also making sure to invite local high school baseball legend Miles (Miles Tiller). At first, Thomas and Costa, along with their friend JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), are certain no one is going to show as it’s already 9:00 and the only person who has shown up is their gal pal Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). While Thomas may be excited that Kirby is there and may or may not have the hots for her, but all Thomas really wants to do is wind up scoring with the hottest girl in school, Alexis (Alexis Knapp, clearly cast for her derriere and willingness to take off her bra, but who am I to judge?) Soon enough, the entire high school, including a recent graduate who has moved on to be a Playboy Bunny, come out of the woodworks and it doesn’t take long for the alcohol to lead to ecstasy and rioting.
The biggest problem with the entire film is that from the start you don’t give one iota about the trio of Costa, JB, and Thomas. A film of these extremes must begin with characters you either want to see prevail in the end, or who are at least likeable enough to keep the rest of the headache-inducing shenanigans entertaining. All we’re left with here is someone thinking to throw in a character who would make American Pie’s Stifler blush into the middle of the plot to Superbad and take out all of the jokes.
Shame on writer Michael Bacall for leaving his name in the credits on this racist, homophobic piece of reprehensible filmmaking. I can’t help but wonder just how little he either had to do with the final product here and how much he actually contributed to his last writing effort (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). I have a feeling we’ll find out after 21 Jump Street comes out next week. I’m hoping that film winds up being hilarious and that is a mere misstep. The man is friends with both Edgar Wright and Quentin Tarantino for crying out loud. This has to be an anomaly of some kind but we shall see.
In the meantime, who should see this? I want to say no one, but unfortunately, every college frat boy on the planet will probably plop down their wasted dollars to laugh at every vile joke director Nima Nourizadeh didn’t cut out of co-writer Matt Drake’s attempt at delivering the world’s biggest birthday bash ever. However, the real blame here must be placed on producer Todd Phillips who is clearly announcing to the world just how morally bankrupt he has become since he finally made it huge with his Hangover films. He has apparently moved on from working with producer Ivan Reitman and is now partnered with Joel Silver, signing some kind of deal with the devil in the process to get the likes of The Hangover Part II, and now Project X, unleashed upon moviegoers, which just makes me think that someone needs to call a priest.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures