‘Project X’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 2nd, 2012 at 1:29 pm,

Project X Party Project X Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Project X

Every generation has its high school party movie – an over-the-top film experience that compiles all of the terrible and zany things that happen when underage teens get together and drink too much. In the ’70s it was American Graffiti, in the ’80s, Sixteen Candles, in the ’90s, American Pie, in the ’00s, Superbad, and now, in the ’10s, it’s Project X.

Unfortunately, where prior party films managed to offer compelling characters and intriguing (possibly cathartic) story beats that worked in the context of teens trying to make sense of their approaching adulthood, Project X is nothing more than a celebration of young people doing terrible things – to property, to animals, to themselves, and to the people they care about.

Like earlier generations (via their own party movies), current high school seniors may find things to identify with in Project X - from stolen looks with the hottest girl in class, to stumbling around drunk with your friends – not to mention the pressing need for acceptance driving you to do almost anything. However, for the rest of us, these moments aren’t likely to be quite as captivating.

The film was produced by Hangover director Todd Phillips, but unlike that film, Project X is short on compelling leading men, as well as entertaining comedy scenes. As a result, the compiled “found footage” fails to offer anything but cliché high school archetypes, subpar “did that just happen” moments, as well as a bizarre and completely convoluted through-line about what really matters in life. Basically, if you’re looking for anything more than one thousand teenagers demolishing a house and grinding on each other, there’s very little to enjoy in Project X.

Project X Girls Project X Review

Girls are the primary motivation in 'Project X'

The “story” is a basic rags-to-riches tale of a trio of unpopular teens who are bullied by jocks and cheerleaders – until Costa (Oliver Cooper) uses the birthday of best friend Thomas (Thomas Mann) as an excuse to throw an epic house party that will make the pair – along with their third-wheel, J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) – socially relevant at school. At first, Thomas is reluctant to host the party, but is quickly won-over when Costa walks him around the campus pointing at all the hot girls that might show up. Of course, the party’s proposed fifty person limit is quickly overrun, and as more and more teens descend on the Mann household, pandemonium breaks out – resulting in the systematic destruction of the house, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

It’s certainly possible for audience members to be won over by the film’s love for topless girls and midgets that punch men (and women) in the crotch; however, core elements lack any of the basic ingredients for anything approaching even a nominal film experience – ultimately preventing Project X from being anything more than a bottom rung (and senseless) celebration of debauchery and destruction.

As mentioned, the characters in Project X are clichéd high school archetypes – which, grounded in a better story, might have been passable. Unfortunately, not one of the three lead players is interesting or particularly enjoyable to watch from scene to scene. Thomas is resigned to a mish-mash pairing of freakouts and “time of my life” moments that make it difficult to feel bad for him when things get out of control. Similarly, Costa (the driving force behind the party) could be one of the least likable teen protagonists in movie history. While a similar balls-to-the wall disregard for others worked for Stifler (in American Pie), Costa lacks a key ingredient that made Seann William Scott’s character enjoyable: a workable sense of humor. Instead, the Project X character moves from one situation to another spouting least-common-denominator pick up lines that don’t translate into humorous moments onscreen and instead are likely to just make normal moviegoers feel bad for all the “Costas” they actually know in the real world.

Project X Thomas Mann Oliver Cooper Jonathan Daniel Brown Project X Review

Oliver Cooper, Thomas Mann, and Jonathan Daniel Brown in 'Project X'

Costa is representative of a larger problem in Project X – essentially that, without compelling characters to keep audiences invested, it’s hard to make sense of, or be concerned about, the onscreen chaos. The film never attempts to say anything profound about a culture where lying to your parents and throwing the biggest, most destructive party in history is the solution to self-esteem problems – a major offense for audience members who can’t be won-over by co-eds in a bouncy castle. That said, as a film, the biggest failure of Project X is the sheer lack of interesting set-pieces, as most moviegoers aren’t likely to be as upset about a shattered window or broken chandelier as Thomas (especially since it’s hard to like the guy).

These shortcomings are further complicated by the film’s “found footage” format, which attempts to ground the party as a real-life event, making all of the ridiculous antics and we’ve-seen-this-before character interactions all the more absurd – without adding anything interesting to the actual presentation. As the party rages, popular girls swoon to get a moment alone with Thomas, dozens of college co-eds swim topless in the family pool, and a riot even breaks out. Despite the format, the resulting onscreen (teenage?) action cannot be taken seriously and comes across as little more than a self-indulgent dream from someone who’s never been to an actual house party. This point is further evidenced by the resulting aftermath of the party, which shows a shocking lack of respect for the characters and the overarching situation – as the filmmakers dust over responsibility and divert the audience’s attention away from actually dealing with any challenging ramifications.

Unlike prior “house party” movies, Project X says nothing meaningful about its subject matter, and instead paints teens as an unlikeable and, worse yet, reckless bunch of automatons that would risk injury to themselves as well as others just for a passing glance from a pretty girl. However, the film’s greatest offense (far worse than its immature take on teen culture) is the surprising lack of entertainment value it presents. Aside from a few semi-outrageous moments (most of which can be seen in the film’s trailer), the party of the century is actually pretty boring on film.

Maybe you just had to be there.

If you’re still on the fence about Project X, check out the trailer below:

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Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Project X is rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem – all involving teens. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

1 out of 5
(Poor)

TAGS: Project X

109 Comments

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  1. OKay so I saw project X and the movie was filled with just high school kids and college kids. It got clapping twice and everyone loved it, it was purely for highschool/college kids (mostly guys) it was awsome brought back good times and times to come (im 20) anyone over 35+ probably hated it and it would waste their time no doubt. But if yuor 15+ its yur kind of movie.

    • Uh, isn’t this movie rated R? 15 year old’s shouldn’t be watching R-rated films.

  2. This review was way too critical. Saw the movie and it was the funniest movie I’ve seen in years.

    • How many movies have you seen in your years cuz this was god awful. Tried way to hard to be the funny party movie.

      • F**K. Profanity there for ya ahha

  3. You know, after reading some of these comments, I think I have to agree that maybe this movie deserves a higher rating… Hear me out. It kind of appears that maybe REAL teenagers are actually just as stupid as the ones in that movie, so perhaps that movie is actually a really accurate portrayal of young people now-a-days. So technically it should be a 4 star movie… ;-)

  4. Yup…precisely what I thought it’d be. This is going on my “only-watch-if it’s-late-and-there-are-no-’modern marvels’-marathons-on-tv” list.

  5. Just want to let you guys know… I’m 16 (17 in 2 months) and I found this movie to be terrible, nay, revolting.
    “cliché high school archetypes, subpar “did that just happen” moments, as well as a bizarre and completely convoluted through-line about what really matters in life. Basically, if you’re looking for anything more than one thousand teenagers demolishing a house and grinding on each other, there’s very little to enjoy in Project X.” — that quote sums things up nicely.
    Honestly, this was the first movie I’ve EVER walked out on… and the weird thing is, the hot girls weren’t even enough reason to stick through it!

    @Ben, I think you were very kind with your 1 star rating: I gave it 0 stars.
    ‘Project X’ can suck it, give me American Pie any day…

    • Where’s the “Like” button??

    • Seriously, where is the like button? I saw this movie with 16 year olds (younger cousins) and the only reason they enjoyed it was because of the glorification of all the drug abuse and alcohol consumption.

  6. Did a grandpa review this? It’s clearly a film for teens who like a good time and I enjoyed it and it’s not intended to have a compelling story or exceptional acting, it’s just a crazy teen flick and should be reviewed as such. The reviewer should take that into consideration.

    • So, teens now are incapable of having a good time without being complete morons?? I have plenty of good times without being a complete degenerate… Damn, the Mayans are right, the world is ending this year, and good riddance, the next generations are going to make this place a living hell anyway…

  7. Man, seeing that picture on the heading, just the facial expression of two of those guys make me want to slap them…

  8. i have been visiting this website for over two years now, and pretty much agreed with every review, unfortunately i don’t agree with this one.
    i went to see project x today and gotta say although i didn’t love it, i most certainly didn’t hate it, or even felt it warranted 1 star. this movie is definitely better then what screenrant gave it and i hope the ALL the staff watch this and work out a better rating. please dont worry bout universal reviews because they shouldn’t matter, it should be just what this website and all its staff thinks.
    if i was to rate this movie, I would give it 3 stars, remmember, u cant base this compare this to sixteen candles, just because there are teenagers in both movies, its definately not the same movie.

  9. So, we already have 2 incidents where some idiot teen who loved this movie tried to replicate this and were arrested for destruction of property…

    So… who was it that was saying that teenagers now are not so dumb that they would try to replicate this???

  10. Here’s all the music played in Project X, with Bang On’s Hands High ! http://bit.ly/yIBqil @bangonmusic @bigdadarecords

  11. This movie had it’s moments, but the rest was a cringe-fest. The Costa character was awful, just awful, and not in a good way. Oh come on, rags-to-riches? The kids were LOADED! Moral of the story, go ahead and destroy everything if you got the cash to clean up the mess and hire good lawyers. It’s funny, right!?

  12. i cant stop thinking about tomas i cry during school and cry during dinner because i love him so much his all i think about.and all my friend think im crazy because i love him so much i cant explain how much i love him. but if i saw him i would hug him and kiss him to death. i just cant get him out of my mind. and i go into my moms car alone and cry bacause of him i look at pix of him about 8 times a day so yeah i love tomas.

  13. project x was great! they should do another movie like it or maybe even a second one!

  14. The people who claim they are young and still hated the movie, are most likely the kids who sat in the front if the class and never attended high achool parties. They wouldnt know a good time if it bit them in the ass. I would love to attend a party like this

  15. The people who claim that the people who hated this movie are people who don’t know a good time, are most likely the kids who think you need to be a complete idiot douche-bag in order to have fun. They wouldn’t know a good time without alcohol and drugs if it bit them in the ass. I would love to drop a bomb on a party like this and raise the national average IQ.

  16. I am 21 years of age, In college and this movie pretty much is one big college frat party. I have been to a party of such that turned in to a riot in 2008 when the phillies won the world series. Their was the some of everything and if you look for videos of the event you can see people in similar acts. So this movie for me was just the party/riot i experienced with sexy girls naked. Because of that i had fun watching it and after it just made me think back to when i had 100 people over.

    • So a party that turns into a riot is something to be proud of?? Man, I remember back in the day when doing something that requires intelligence was something to be proud of. Man, how the world’s changed… I am really sure the whole 2012 end of the world thing must be true now, and even if it isn’t, this world cannot possibly last much longer with these people as our future…

      • Well, I have since looked into riot behavior and it is all in the moment. I was a teen at the time of the party/riot and i remember feeling like i had something to let out. After drinking copious amounts of beer, screaming at the police for nothing and uprooting street signs with friends. I felt very relaxed, actually ever since then i have been a relatively calm young adult. And yes our future is going to ish*, I personality think people shouldn’t make light of riots, teasing, drinking, and partying but it sells and I watch for the crap humor. But the sad thing is, it is going to make high school students even worse. My sister has been to two copy cats, one was 1200 house/block party (swat was called) the other was 800 people with 1 helicopter and police. Shes only 17

        • @Steve

          Well, not your sister, but in regards to the people who started these copy-cat parties. I guess the saying goes: Who’s dumber? The idiot or the idiot that follows him?

          Hopefully they knew who started them and arrested them…

  17. I’m 16 and my brother is 24 and we both watched this movie together. We laughed throughout the whole movie it was great. It was so many moments when we were like WOW, OMG,Really?, laughed and screamed. Hoping for a sequel! People are taking this movie too serious its just a good teen funny movie,for kicks and giggles. It did good money wise so i guess a lot of people enjoyed it as well.

  18. me and my friends loved it and there where both girls and guys it was amazing ill admit there wasnt a ton of funny moments but thats not the point the film is just like a dream for everyone who wasnt hostin it and while ive been to house parties that have got out o hand this is just crazy and thats what attracts everyone

  19. I would like to say that I am a 17 year old, and tonight I watched Project X. As I’m reading through many of these reviews, I can mostly point out that people think us “youngsters” only enjoyed it because of the glorification of drug and alcohol abuse. I beg to differ. I think I can speak for a majority of my generation… we enjoy these types of movies because of the action. Now of days movies come out and a majority of them are dialogue and scenes that just never seem to end. But in Project X, it seems like once an exciting scene was ending, a more exciting scene was just being opened up. This movie is more for people in the age range of 17-25. People younger than that shouldn’t watch it, and people older probably just think that we’re a bunch of narcissistic, degenerate tramps. I really hope a 2nd movie is released because I will definitely be in that theater the day of release!

  20. Yeah I watched this too, and I’m 23. I pretty much enjoyed the whole movie. The drugs and alcohol was crazy. But I would have to say that wanting to go to a party like this would mean that you’d have to get yourself hurt. This movie, I guess, wasn’t supposed to be like the american pie movies but a totally different “genre” of a highschool/college party movie or something. For the ones who thought that everything they saw in the film was dumbness, I just think that maybe you’ve never experienced parties like this ever. For the ones who enjoyed this film, I guess we can all relate.

  21. Guess everyone can be a critic nowadays…

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