© Warner Bros. Pictures Germany

Project X
U.S.A. 2012

Opening 3 May 2012

Directed by: Nima Nourizadeh
Writing credits: Matt Drake, Michael Bacall
Principal actors: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton

Remember high school? Remember what it was like feeling a bit awkward in your own skin, hormones raging, agonizing over every zit, not sure where you fit in, desperately wanting to be cool? For my generation it was films like The Breakfast Club, Risky Business, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High that touched a nerve, identified with my reality, and horrified my parents with tales of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Well times have moved on, and this brings us to Project X.

Don’t expect much of a plot in Project X. A couple high school nerds, in a desperate attempt to finally become cool, throw a wild birthday party for their friend while his parents are out of town for the weekend. Word gets out and the party gets way out of hand. Don’t expect much of a resolution or valuable lesson in the end either, other than it’s probably not a good idea to post your address on Craigslist. The fun of this film is simply watching this party as it mushrooms out of control.

And it is fun. There are a few jaw-dropping moments, and I found myself laughing out loud during several scenes. Todd Phillips (The Hangover) produced the film, so as you can imagine there’s enough raw humor, naked boobies, drugs and alcohol to satisfy any adolescent boy. First-time feature film director Nima Nourizadeh also did an interesting job presenting the story from the hand-held home-video perspective of a character you never actually get to see. He also gave cast members iPhones to capture random scenes at will and incorporated them into the film to give it a “real” feel. The resulting shakiness was irritating in the first 15 minutes, but after I got used to it I kind of enjoyed the voyeuristic perspective.

The entire cast added to that “home-video” flavor with their refreshingly authentic performances as typical everyday teenagers, probably due to the fact that they all had little or no prior acting experience. They were found in open castings and on YouTube, and their real names were used for their characters. Thomas Mann was fantastic as the birthday boy.

Yes, the film is crude, misogynist, politically incorrect, piggish, irresponsible and unrepentant. As a parent, I cringed at the ecstasy, alcohol, and objectification of young girls – because I worry, as parents have for generations. But as I watched my daughter laughing out of the corner of my eye, I realized this film wasn’t made for me. And there’s really nothing new here. I had my keg parties. I survived. I learned. Now its time for Jeff Spicoli to pass the generational baton. (Shawn Klug)

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