Project X Review
By Bret Dorman
I’m very mixed on Project X. On the one hand, I’d like to join the party and have a great time. On the other, I hate douche bags and even more, good people who try to be douche bags because they think being a douche bag is cool.
Ultimately I come down on the side of this movie was terrible and completely moral-less, actively contributing to and celebrating the worst in teenage douche bag drunken rebelry.
The Story: Thomas (Thomas Mann) is having his 18th birthday party and his friends Costa and JB (Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown) decide to throw him the best most awesome birthday party ever. Only it gets out of control which makes it more awesomer and you all should feel really dumb that your parties aren’t this mega awesome. Also, there is a cute dog and an angry midget! Tehehehe!
Thomas is a decent guy. He wants people to like him. That’s relate-able. But how much can you like a guy who is so willing to let a bunch of idiots basically run his party (maybe even life?). Costa is an annoying fake ‘player’ wannabe who sacrifices any bit of decency to try and be ‘cool’. What do I mean by this? He openly mocks his ‘drug dealer’ right in front of his face, he openly mocks an older woman ringing out their groceries right to her face, he pushes his friends into an oncoming shoppers cart and giggles about it, and he talks about getting pussy in front of his friend’s mom (to be fair he didn’t know she was there and did awkwardly apologize for that one). Are these things we find cool? Should I be laughing at this behavior? Costa hangs out with Thomas because he is easily manipulated and hangs out with JB because he can pick on JB and take him down a couple notches to make himself feel better. Sure later he drunkenly apologizes for this but doesn’t it make him even more of an asshole that he knows it is wrong but does it anyway. In the end Costa doesn’t learn anything, he just is an asshole, drunkenly apologizes, and goes back to being an asshole (do you think he would have drunkenly apologized to the cashier lady from before?). Do people find this funny because of his actual behavior or because he is trying so hard to be cool and it is clear he never will be? As much as I’d like to think people are laughing at his failure I think they are mostly laughing with him as he treats people terribly.
Here’s where I struggle with the movie. I don’t want to sound like an old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to turn their music down or stop driving so fast! I understand this idea that we all want to have fun. And that as you get older, the harder it becomes to really let loose like this. In high school/college you are in your partying prime and you don’t have as many responsibilities. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to throw an awesome party or take a couple of drugs or hook up with a bunch of hot chicks? You only live once right? I get that its fun to be rebellious (even though I never was) and to stand up to authority. Life is full of people telling you what to do, add in youth hormones and drugs and it just makes sense that people want to band together and create a mob presence that is more like a force of nature. This movie could have addressed all this and been fun. It could have. But it chose to ignore any sense of moral right and wrong and go just for the pleasure.
The movie opens with a title card “apologizing” to people in the neighborhood for causing a ruckus. However this plays like a backhanded “apology” (I know its fake, like any Found Footage movie’s claims of where they found the footage or where it’s been the past X number of years). Instead of seeming sincere, its more like the film makers saying “We’re sorry our awesome party was TOO awesome for you!” It also never explicitly states “Do not try this at home” which is interesting. Do they just not feel the need? Every Jackass opens with it even though you know those shows/movies play as inspiration and not just escapism for some of its target audience. There have even been multiple news stories of kids causing thousands in property damage citing this movie as inspiration for their idiotic party behavior. One teen has even died at a Project X-inspired party. To be fair on this one, the kid was shot by someone at the party, so its not clear if the party itself just got out of hand or if this shooting could have taken place elsewhere but just happened to be at the party. With the exception of a kid dying (MAYBE) I can see the producers/writers/director taking these other stories as badges of honor. “Yeah, our movie made that happen.” I can envision them boasting at a meeting somewhere, referring to a full dossier on the mayhem inspired by their work.
In the end Thomas learns a little. He learns that he would rather have ‘true love’ over sex with the HOTTEST girl in school. He learns… that friendship means a lot? He learns his dad thinks he is a loser but it also kind of proud of his new found street cred… So in the end he has a lot of bills to pay but says it was all worth it. But is it really worth sacrificing a lifestyle of fun and rebelliousness for one night? I mean the party was big and crazy, but he spent half the night worrying about people breaking stuff and not getting caught. It seems to me that this kind of “care-free I’ll do what I want when I want because it feels good to me” attitude is better suited and more interesting as a lifestyle and not just some half-assed drug inspired night of semi-confidence. Movies like Breathless, Cool Hand Luke, and The Man With No Name Trilogy feature characters who play by their own rules, but also have some sort of personal moral compass.
The party itself does have its moments. The midget punching people is funny as he leaves a trail of people half bent over in pain. The general shit hitting the fan mayhem near the end was a tad bit exciting (a total of 10 minutes max), although I think the movie should have gotten their quicker and gone more overboard, leading to some serious resolutions and punishments. But these things are not enough to redeem the movie. At all.
In Conclusion, if this movie had been a deeper introspective on peer pressure with a morally just ending I could have found its debauchery more acceptable. Instead it lacks any sense of common decency and all three of the main characters are idiotic moron douche bag wannabes. I don’t want to be their friends nor do I find it funny when they call women bitches, assault people and celebrate getting away with it, or make fun of innocent bystanders to their face. And I’m not sorry I don’t like this movie.
Final Grade: F