Project X takes the rather familiar teen comedy formula of the ultimate house party and updates it for the new generation. Taking the idea of the found footage movie something that has found recent success in other genre’s such as horror and sci-fi director Nima Nourizadeh and producer Todd Phillips of Hangover fame try to bring this to the comedy genre, but does it work?
Unfortunately not at all, the whole reason why found footage works so well with horror films such as Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity, is the use of POV to create tension to make you feel as if you were right there with the characters. Also we have a sense of what is likely going to happen, whether this is that the characters are going to be dispatched in a variety of gruesome ways or the reveal of what actually took place. This gives the audience a sense of knowing but also unknowing. Unfortunately this does not work with Project X, mainly due to the film’s protagonists, Costa, JB and Thomas.
The three of them are the most obnoxious, flat, unlikeable characters that have been in a teen movie. In a classic 80’s John Hughes film you’d expect these guys to be the bullies rather than the heroes. Their main problem is that unlike the classic teen comedies that have come before them, while they share the similar traits of social acceptance and a battle for popularity, these three characters have absolutely no charm or likeability. This is especially true in the case of Costa, who comes off as crass rather than loveable
The way in which the footage is shot will largely make you forget it is supposed to be a teenager filming it on his home camera .The movie looks like some glossy music video, filmed in HD. Apart from a few cutaway shots from phones and police cars, you often forget why this film uses the whole found footage concept.
Once the party gets going there are far too many totally unbelievable set pieces that are instantly forgettable, mainly because they’ve been done before and in a much better ways. Costa, JB, and Thomas never really have any moral dilemmas throughout the film and the movie never really has that moment of self growth that makes the teen movie what it is. Instead it is essentially 88 minutes of half naked teenagers grinding and destroying everything in sight, all shot in glorious slow motion.
Project X unfortunately takes what has worked with previous teen comedies, such as Superbad (of which the main characters in Project X look like poor copies of), and does everything wrong with it. Once the party has reached its climax, Thomas doesn’t have any real consequences and Costa becomes some sort of party pimp, no doubt a poor attempt to try and hint at a sequel, which will unfortunately rear its ugly head soon enough.
Overall Verdict: Completely avoidable unless you’re a fan of watching a glossy teen pop music video on repeat for 88 minutes. If you’re after a real teen house party movie go with the classics that this film poorly tries to imitate.
Project X: The Pasadena Three (Casting Featurette)
Reviewer: Gareth Haworth