Project X is nothing more than the celebration of teen anarchy and narcissism. There is no story, no character development and really no reason to see the movie.
The star of the film is the setting–the party, the one wild night where anything and everything happens–and it looks awesome. It’s the party we’ve all dreamed about being at or throwing. There are characters at the party, but there’s no investment in them and it really doesn’t matter than it’s Thomas’ birthday or that they’re desperately just trying to be cool. Costa, the stereotypical obnoxious best friend, is so unlikable in his pathetic Jonah Hill impression, that he’s almost a parody of himself.
Aside from the lack of any reason to care about the kids at the party, Project X relies on the “found footage” or self-documented gimmick a la Cloverfield or Blair Witch Project. The technique gives you a unique voyeuristic perspective of the action, but completely ignores narrative development. It doesn’t matter how we got to the next scene or character motivations, you’re just there. And if there isn’t a clean transition, they just throw in another wild montage of topless girls, drinking, and dancing. Even the few confessional-style scenes with our main characters lack any depth or strong monologue.
The best party of the movie is the soundtrack. It’s amazing what you can do with great party songs and footage of attractive people doing rebellious things. This is why the Project X trailer looked so good.
Look, I take my teen movies seriously. It is a genre that deserves respect and proper attention. Project X is not a teen movie. It’s a movie about a crazy party that gets out of hand. Nothing more, nothing less. More than anything, Project X made me feel old. I wanted to go back and re-watch Can’t Hardly Wait again. Now that’s a perfect teen film. It successfully uses a party as the setting of the entire film, but the movie is not solely about the party.
I got the sense sitting in the theatre with a bunch of high schoolers that they thought Project X was very cool. They laughed at the pathetic jokes. I did not. They probably saw the scene of the hottest girl in school mounting the nerdy lead for no other reason that it was his party and thought that that’s how it works. They probably saw how the characters escape any real consequences for their actions and thought it was awesome.
I know I’m long removed from the days of high school parties because the parents are out of town, but I go back to Can’t Hardly Wait. That movie came out in 1998. It had drinking and sex and debauchery, but the movie didn’t revolve around that excess. In 2012, we celebrate the underage binge drinking and the drugs and the sex and the riots with the cops. Has society changed that much or have movies?
I’m not naive. I know this shit happens. I know this is only a movie. But kids are selfish and impressionable idiots and I couldn’t help be get the feeling that those same teens in the movie theatre watching Project X went home and started planning for the next time their parents are out of town so that they can try to throw the party of their lives and be the cool kid at school the next week.