It was a novel idea — a teenage comedy shot in found-footage format, soaked in the traditional dose of sadistic vulgarity while managing to maintain a well-defined connection to reality. Even the trailers found a way to come off as hilarious yet relatable. And to top it all off, comedic mastermind Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”) took the reins, promising to redeem himself after the disaster that was “The Hangover Part II.” Everyone was excited about “Project X,” the film that would change the comedy genre for the better. Then the movie came out. And to be frank, there’s no better way of describing it than saying that it flat out sucked ass.
At Quality 16 and Rave
It starts out nicely enough, pulling the audience through the boring lives of the three nerdy protagonists, Thomas (newcomer Thomas Mann), Costa (newcomer Oliver Cooper) and JB (newcomer Jonathan Daniel Brown), in expectedly slow fashion. The jokes at this point in the film are sparse but entertaining, as if hinting at something great that’s about to come.
Sadly, that something great never makes an appearance, and all we’re left with is a bunch of stupid kids getting drunk and puking into the camera every other second. All the faux badassery on display could have been funny, but only if it wasn’t the focal point for the entire film. Also, it would have helped if at least one of the characters didn’t seem like a hollow projection of every teenage stereotype in the book.
In any event, the movie picks up as the three main characters finish planning a massive birthday celebration for Thomas’ 17th. Featuring an endless supply of cheap liquor, illegal drugs and topless women, the party inevitably turns out to be a massive hit. Hundreds of misguided teenagers show up to have their turn at getting shitfaced and doing something stupid, until finally, the controlled chaos quickly spins out of control and the house is a smoldering pile of embers.
Nothing in this movie is outright bad. All of the actors seem to have an idea about what they’re doing and deliver their lines somewhat effectively. The plot is rather obnoxious but understandable in a fantastical sense. The problem is that none of it fits together. There’s absolutely no moral cohesiveness to give this movie the traction it needs to be effective. “Superbad” worked because all the jokes and stupidity were grounded by the loveable yet often strained relationship between the three main characters. Granted, the sappy relationship dynamics didn’t take center stage for more than a few minutes, but it became very clear that the director wasn’t going to let the movie be lost behind a wall of one-dimensional jokes.
In “Project X,” it seems as if the production team is content with letting the film be consumed by a glitzy, half-assed attempt to be funny. Needless to say, it never works. The film turns out to be a vulgar attempt at humor that never really manages to back up the idiocy with good jokes.