Walking into Project X I did not expect it to be deep or complex, rather a comedic and enjoyable teen comedy during which I could sit back and laugh. I was not prepared for what was to come. While using the ingredients of classic raunchy flicks like American Pie (cue the naked woman, party music, and awkward situations), first-time director Nima Nourizadeh seems to have scooped from the lowest depths of the of the proverbial barrel of Hollywood garbage to produce a piece of cinematic trash, devoid of both likable characters and any actual humor. Walking out at the end, I felt ashamed to have paid money for this waste of 88 minuets.
The plot is simple: two high school kids – J.B (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and Costa (Oliver Cooper) – decide to throw a huge birthday party for their friend Thomas (Thomas Mann). As word about the party gets out, it gets bigger and bigger, until so many people show up, that the party goes out of control. It’s nothing new, and uses many typical tropes of the teen comedy genre.I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t hate Project X because it’s a teen comedy; in fact, I liked Superbad, Animal House, as well as The Hangover. Nourizadeh’s film differs from these other three movies in one fundamental and paramount way: it wasn’t funny. There is little to no comedic timing, and those attempts at humor that exist, take the form of gross-out and shock comedy (which is honestly better executed in most YouTube videos). The shock value gets so over the top and repetitive that as the audience, you grow to loath the characters.
This leads up to a second major problem with the movie; the characters are in no way realistic nor are they likable. In such a spring, popcorn movie, I don’t except the main characters to be too complex, but I assume that they will at least be fun or relatable. Project X’s characters don’t even read like real people, the writing and acting come together to create simplified, cardboard-cut-outs of high school and college archetypes — the worst of these being Costa (Oliver Cooper). Sporting a sweater vest, Costa is the most annoying, awful, offensive, misogynistic, jackass I have ever seen in film. I am not simply offended that the character is Jewish like I am — I am offended that he is a carbon based life form like I am. While it is clear that the character was written to be annoy the audience, his portrayal in the film goes far beyond the likeable asshole archetype that we have come to know (characters such as Seth from Superbad), and fully embraces an identity that inspires actual hate in the viewer. Not only is Costa incredibly offensive towards woman and African Americans, but he also allows the destruction of his friend’s house, literally forces beer down his friend’s throat, and peer pressures that same friend into taking ecstasy.
As in other party films, Costa and J.B., the two people who threw and organized the event, don’t go to jail. What kind of message does this send? Again Project X differs from other films in its genre, as no lesson is learned of the part of the protagonists. While Thomas does get charged with six felonies (though he did not start the party), his father (the owner of the house that is destroyed by two thousand plus people) doesn’t yell at his son; rather he congratulates him for throwing such a legendary party. Furthermore, the film ends with all three kids receiving applause from their whole school. I guess underage drinking, drug-use, destruction of property, theft, and arson laws don’t exist in this world!
While there are many factors that make Project X a simply unpleasant and irritating film, the most disturbing aspect is that the characters are supposed to represent us. Does Hollywood think that this is what we are really like? That this is who we are as a generation? If this isn’t the most disturbing aspect of the film, than I don’t know what is. I recommend that you avoid seeing this movie; don’t even illegally download it. Don’t, in any way, contribute to recognizing this movie as fun or watchable. Do not see this film, you will save your money, and some brain cells.