Project X (2012)
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton
Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Tagline: The party you've only dreamed about.
Running time: 88 Minutes
Quick summary (from IMDB): 3 high school seniors throw a birthday party to make a name for themselves. As the night progresses, things spiral out of control as word of the party spreads.
I really didn’t want to enjoy Project X because of what (I thought) it was: a lazy attempt at filmmaking. I’m still kind of on the fence about “found footage” movies, as I hated the two most popular movies in this style, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. The difference between those two movies and Project X was that those two were horror, and tried to use the shaky camera and bad acting to make the movies seem real and to make it scarier. It doesn’t really work (for me) as I end up bored and making fun of the bad acting or the stupid tricks. I figured Project X would be kind of the same, and the lack of traditional movie story-telling and structure would not work and I’d just be bored for 90 minutes. Turns out it was actually kind of funny.
These types of movies only work if the cast is made up of complete unknowns. With the exception of that one dude with the mustache (Pete Gardner) and Jimmy Kimmel, I’d never seen any of the main characters anywhere else. That certainly helps make it feel more realistic. The 3 main dudes (Thomas Mann, Oilver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown) all did a good job, especially if this was their first time actually acting, though I doubt it’s very hard to act like a teenager going wild at a crazy high school party. It probably is as simple as: Drink fake alcohol, pretend to be drunk, jump in a pool, dance around, pass out, wake up, and look hung over. There’s not a whole lot of depth or emotion required to pull that off. Still they were able to do a convincing job of it.
There’s not a whole lot to the movie other than the partying, and much of the funnier scenes were in the trailer, but overall it was a pretty funny movie. It’s not even close to the level of Animal House or Old School in terms of ridiculously awesome parties in movies, but it’s decent, and a lot of crazy stuff happens, and the party looks outrageous. Definitely not a party I’d want to go to.
The only thing I didn’t get with Project X is how in the world it cost $12 million to make. The camera(s) probably didn’t cost more than a couple thousand dollars, they cast unknowns and had tons of extras, but other than that, couldn’t have had too many other expenses. Sure, they destroyed a Mercedes and an entire fake neighborhood full of houses, and had some effects and stunts, but it couldn’t have cost that much. I feel like I could have made this movie for way less than $12 mil. Someone spot me $1 mil and I’ll make a pretty sweet college/high school party movie.
I’m kind of afraid that after a movie like this, especially since it grossed nearly $100 million, there will be a ton more just like it with shaky cams, shoddy acting and shenanigans and hi-jinks in lieu of a plot. In Project X, the acting was good enough and the shenanigans funny enough to make it work.
3 out of 5 stars