Project X on Blu-ray

I’ve been a bit curious about Project X since it was in theatres. Granted, not curious enough to pay to see it, but still, I like movies about parties that get out of control. And I’m always interested in something Todd Phillips will put his name on (for Project X he’s listed as a producer, noticeably not an executive producer).  Even it’s just a hate-watch, I’ll give his stuff a chance.

The film directed by first time director Nima Nourizadeh, shot documentary-style, follows a high school birthday party that gets big, loud and out of control.  You can imagine, it takes place at a home that is conveniently free of adult supervision.  A true testament to the powers of social media, the party grows beyond high school students, somehow Playboy bunnies (I think), college kids, and a party bus pull up.  There’s even age-inappropriate, pedophile-type guests that show up “not looking to bust anybody, just looking to party.”  They found out about the party from a Craigslist ad.

While I was perhaps expecting the hilarious shenanigans of Superbad, to be honest, the mood is surprisingly claustrophobic and anxious.  The man charged with filming the epic bash follows the birthday boy closely.  He walks a thin line between enjoying the topless girls filling his swimming pool, and trying to make sure nobody leaves a trace that his parents could find. Perhaps its the square in me, but I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy a second of the hedonism (unless I was rolling on E like the bulk of the party ends up doing).

There are some laugh-out-loud moments, but the movie starts out slow.  Almost a full thirty minutes go by of ordinary high school locker room scenes, and boring party preparations.  In this thirty minutes, there’s a frustratingly obtuse planting of a device that will inevitable thrust the plot forward in a disappointingly obvious and convenient moment.

The film moves along with soundtrack of clubthumping tracks, none too familiar, at just the right upbeat tempo (they did have the good sense to through some Four Tet and The xx in there).  Occasionally breaking for quiet moments that never fail to sexualize the teen characters–particularly the girls, the film is often misogynistic (there’s lots of talk of getting dicks wet).  And you better believe a little person gets shoved in an oven before the night’s over.  Much like many of the films that bear Todd Phillips’ name, Project X is devoid of the laugh-a-minute pace promised by misleading trailers and takes a disturbingly dark turn when an angry drug dealer shows up with a flame thrower.  Even Phillips says in an extra on the Blu-ray that the film is more crazy than it is funny.

As pure escapism, it seems like the film is too adult for its target audience.  I would have enjoyed a movie about a party like this when I was seventeen, although I would have been far from believing people in my age group would be capable of such debauchery.  But I wouldn’t have been allowed in the theatre.  I suppose it was fun to watch at times, but mostly I just feel bad for the neighbors.

Warner Brothers provided BFR with a review copy for this review.

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