Project X is about a couple of high school students, Costa and J.B., who throw a party for their friend Thomas’s birthday, aiming to increase their popularity among their schoolmates. But is this a party worth being invited to?
Knowing that this film is produced by Todd Phillips, the director and writer behind The Hangover, and my impressions after watching the trailer, I went into this film thinking it would be a similar effort to the 2009 smash hit but focused on teenagers. I was both right and wrong. Although plot devices and the style are different, the kids film their night on a video camera as opposed to the cinematic style of The Hangover, both films are an amusing take on a night going out of control due to excessive amounts of alcohol.
The use of the home-video style footage, most often used in horror films to make the events seem more realistic, adds charm to Project X. I’m sure the film-makers used this style so the viewer resonates with the events, as in this YouTube generation, I’m sure many people have clips of their mates doing stupid things under the influence of alcohol. Sure, the party reaches extreme proportions by the end of the film which you could argue takes the ‘party gone wrong’ aspect too far, when around 2000 drunk, sex obsessed teenagers start trashing the house and a crazed drug dealer turns up on the scene, but I reckon that there are elements in Project X reminding people of their own parties which adds to the enjoyment.
The three main characters are, in all honestly, rather boring and under-developed. This is a combination of several factors: that the film takes place over a period of 12 hours or so (again a similar trait to hand-held camera horror films); and my suspicion that this might have been done on purpose. We all have friends similar to the three main characters and in my opinion, they’re a blank canvas that allows the viewer to transpose their mates onto people in the film.
That said, the film is riddled with cliches too. You have the outrageous mate, the chubby simple mate and the central character getting it on with the hot girl at school and upsetting the girl that actually likes him. You’ve also go dwarfs, the alpha male and the old man that gets ‘down’ with the kids. But this is a comedy based on OTT house party. It’s not making out it’s something that it’s not. Go watch Well’s Citizen Kane or Dali’s Un Chien Andalou if you want to watch a “proper” film.
To sum up
Parties are only fun when you’re actually there and thanks to the use of the hand-held camera, Project X does it’s best to include you in the fun thanks to a mixture of outlandish drunken behaviour, a few crazy set-pieces and a pitch-perfect soundtrack. The shooting style and combined with the lack characterisation allow you to imagine that you’re attending this dream house party and isn’t escapism what most people watch films for? And the thought of turning up at this party sounds too good to miss, so where’s my invite?
There’s just the one special feature on the DVD, Project X: Pasadena Three, which is a five and a half minute long look at the casting process for the three central characters. Here, the main guys behind the casting process tell us why they wanted the chosen three to play the roles, supported by their audition tapes, and also we get a glimpse into the off camera relationships between the trio. It’s fine but it’s not really worth a watch, however the Blu-Ray version does include two more interesting sounding features and an extended cut of the film, but as we couldn’t review them, we’ve given this score based on the content of the DVD.
Project X is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 2 July. You can order it now from our online store.