Todd Phillips’s (The Hangover), new movie Project X charts one crazy night of hedonism that gets just a little ‘out of hand’.
In a bid to be deemed ‘cool’ by their peers, the ultimate accolade of any high-school teenager anywhere, three friends host a house party and soon find themselves off their faces and in way over their heads… Our protagonist is the birthday boy, Thomas (Thomas Mann), the victim of peer-pressure, bullying and circumstance.
Our antagonist is his best friend Costa (Oliver Cooper), instigator of the party and resident try-hard, a source of much of the comedy given his care-free attitude to standards and/or people. The third of the trio is JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), a quieter, heavier, somewhat nerdier counter-part to his two friends. So far, so Superbad, but the comparisons sort of end here.
I wouldn’t say Project X is more realistic than your average coming-of-age-party-movie. Unless of course you’re convinced that all house parties include large numbers of scantily clad, attractive and almost gullible young females throwing themselves at anyone they wouldn’t fall out of their clique to acknowledge in any other public setting.
What it does have however is a fourth character that doubles up as the viewer, a friend of the trio who is documenting the whole event on his camera. Once the party starts everyone forgets the presence of an observer which enables us to see them in a gritty, truer perspective, even when his silence and voyeurism turns creepy and invasive. However the acknowledgement of his existence means characters regularly appear to break the ‘fourth wall’ by directly addressing the viewer, giving us the effect of ‘being there’.
It is a film whereby you are a passenger, a participant to what’s unfolding even in the less comfortable moments where inconsiderate party goers are abusing the dog / furniture / locals / the law. It is beautifully shot and the careful attention to detail produces as many laughs as some of the behaviour displayed by the protagonists. The aforementioned voyeuristic shots of provocative teens and the running soundtrack make it feel like a feature length music video or a party organised by VICE magazine.
The amazing track-listing adds to the energy and the pace of proceedings, a healthy blend of dance, dub step, hip/hop, electro and rock with doses of obscurity coming from acts like Queens of the Stone Age and even, er James Blunt.
Project X is a comedy, first and foremost and there are plenty of laughs to be had if you can get past the absurdity of it all. Watching Project X will make you want to host / attend a party. Soon. Even if the party doesn’t compare in terms of scale, crimes committed, public decency or drug intake, you’ll want to indulge yourself because ultimately it’s about having a good time. Even in its darker moments, the issues raised in Project X seem to be dealt with in a very ambiguous way.
But then, why does it have to fall upon the film-makers to be taking the high-ground and telling people how to behave responsibly? This film is a celebration of a time in young people’s lives when they take gambles, make mistakes and (hopefully) learn something from them. It’s for your entertainment and your indulgence, but is perhaps not a template for how you should spend your free time.
Project X is released Nationwide in the UK on March 2nd