Project X was reviewed in our movie review column “Animadversion”, iMAGES on Sunday (Dawn Newspaper), March 25, 2012. This post is Project X’s unedited copy. Links to the published version are at the end.
Wasted and Loving It – The Woes of Teenage Anarchy
By Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
Rather than project itself as a cautionary tale of a teenager-party gone chaotic, Project X is perhaps the only contender of its lot that unabashedly celebrates its subject.
Although still in the company of Animal House and Risky Business, this version of teenage Home Alone fixes its gaze on a trio of “mild” school kids, one of whose birthday party starts out in a bid to attain popularity and spirals into full-blown anarchism.
Utilizing the faux-documentary approach to filming, this Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Frat House) and Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon, Matrix) produced film nails down the core aspect of its threadbare plot with striking alacrity. There’s much partying with no mounting worry on consequences – at least, until the third act.
A note to parents: don’t watch this film thinking your younglings will get any new ideas on rowdiness (they won’t). Think of it as a statutory warning on unmonitored young-adult behavior.
Thomas Kupp (Thomas Mann), is about to turn 17, and he incidentally shares the date with his parents wedding anniversary. They, factoring his looser-status at school, decide to leave the house to him and his friends Costa, J.B. and Dax (Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame), for the night. “He’s a sweet kid”, Thomas’ father (Peter Mackenzie) comforts his mother (Caitlin Dulany), “but he’s not exactly popular”. The worst they could do is gather a few friends, play video games, and be done with it he explains.
And that they do, by 9 p.m., when Costa’s amateurish (and nerdily executed) plan works: the kids at school show up – by the thousands.
The house becomes a hell-hole with property damage, indiscreet “Girls Gone Wild” and deafening music. There’s a striking emphasis on reality here.
The film’s nonexistent screenplay (credited to Matt Drake, Michael Becall) doesn’t matter much, if at all, as character depth takes a back seat to raging teenage hormones. The documentary-like approach to the script and production also leaves behind the necessity of a second act. There’ a good twenty minutes packed into the movie when Project X could have soared; instead, in its proclivity to be as real as real-life, the mid-section lets itself drag unnecessarily, without climaxes.
The New York Times seems to think that the film is “so courageous it deserves consideration for the Nobel Prize”. The Daily Variety calls it a “game-changing, instant classic”. In my opinion, the jury’s still out on this one. The game-changing courage is there, and so is the stark dumbness.
Released by Warner Bros. Directed by Nima Nourizadeh, Project X is strongly rated “R”. There’s underage drinking, partial nudity, teenage-chaos, angry midgets and people with flamethrowers.
A bit of a trivia btw: Almost everyone in the cast retains their real-life names. Check out the film’s IMDB.
The published version is at: http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/25/teenage-anarchy.html