Project X (2012)
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
I watched “Project X” last night. Legally. Unlike some 8.5 million others (that’s the entire city of New York), who preferred pirating their copy. Turns out eight and a half million people can’t be wrong; seeing this crappy movie (out of the often-awful handheld camera subgenre) for free is the only good way to do it.
When his friends, Costa (Oliver Cooper) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), try to throw a 17th birthday bash for him, Thomas (Thomas Mann, one of the many principal actors going by his or her real name) is in for the night of his life. Are you surprised that it gets out of hand? You shouldn’t be. Thomas’s life falls apart from a personal POV, but how does the cameraman always seem to be there? Get ready to suspend your belief for a moment (at 88 minutes, that’s all it feels like).
From the beginning, screenwriters Michael Bacall (“21 Jump Street”) and Matt Drake set up “Project X” to be exactly the movie we expect. The predictable plot and dialogue, filled with an unnecessary abundance of foul language, does nothing but make the squeaky voices of the so-called ‘Pasadena 3’ even more irritating. The only twist in the weak story is that Thomas’s parents don’t return unexpectedly early from their anniversary trip. The handheld cameras let us live vicariously through these teenage partiers, even if we’d prefer not to. The camera(s) catch everything worth catching, without fail. Even when we can’t hear the words, these first-time actors are told by director Nima Nourizadeh (in his directorial debut) to overact a bit, letting us know that they’re angry or drunk or whatever. It’s basic stuff.
Besides being every pubescent boy’s dream, “Project X” shouldn’t live much longer in the collective memory of movie-goers.