‘Project X’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:27 pm,

Project X Party Project X Review

Project X says nothing meaningful about its subject matter, and instead paints teens as an unlikeable and, worse yet, reckless bunch of automatons.

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:


[poll id="281"]


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

TAGS: Project X
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  1. Scrolled right to the ‘stars’. Glad to see only 1. Breezing over the article it appears 1 was being generous. :D

  2. What a complete waste of money and time. “Project Retch” make “Dumb and Dumberer” look like a cinematic masterpiece.

  3. I’ve had multiple chances to see this film for free in advanced screenings, but seriously, I knew it would be a waste of my time. Free isn’t cheap enough for me to sit through a movie like this…

    • ^^^Me too haha

  4. Ok, Ben, not surprising with your great review (the movie looked like crap from the get-go), but could you post (with a SPOILER WARNING of course) what the parents did to this guy? All during the preview I was wondering what his dad would do to him after destroying the house and his beloved car.

    • Well, if the parents killed him (not figuratively, as in took a machete and chopped his head off) then I’m sure it would have received at least 3 stars… :-D

      • What Ken J said.

        Kahless – I don’t want to say exactly what happens. Just in case I do end up spoiling it for someone who missed a warning in the comments. We’ll be talking about it on the podcast for sure this week and will spoil it then if you’re interested. Matter of fact, we pretty much chose to do this one on the podcast because we know the conversation would be especially spirited.

        That said, everything after the party ends is either a) idiotic in the grand scheme of character motivations or b) too little too late.

        • Rodger that. I’ll look for the podcast. Thanks buddy.

      • :-P

        That reminds me when I was young, there was an incident where after I had flushed the toilet, I went back to the bedroom to watch TV. After a little while, I heard a crash; the toilet had overflowed into the living room beneath it. I was terrified what my dad would do to me when he got home. I ran around the neighborhood looking for help and even called my uncle. No one could help and I just sat waiting to be eviscerated. Well, he got home, look at the damage, and called a plumber and carpenter; it turns out it was something he had meant to get fixed but just never got around to it. Talk about a weight being lifted!

        • I’m sure he was just glad that you were not sitting on it when it fell through…

        • Ha…I had a similar thing happen. Apparently when I flushed it something inside broke so it kept goin…but the bad news is it was in the middle of the night so it went on for an hour before anyone woke up. But the good news was it was the kick in the but my parents needed to finally start the renovations they had been putting off for a year. So it was for the best :D

  5. todd phillips just keeps rolling out the duds.

  6. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Every single commercial since the first one has been the same. No new footage, no character introductions, just “look at these kids have this wild party! Won’t that be wacky?”

  7. I had a quick glance at the imdb page for it (to see if it was brought to us by the scary movie/vampires suck crowd) and I see the director and writers have very few credits to their names (beyond one of them having an acting career). Unsurprising then that it’s a 1-star film.

  8. Sorry but I think you have to a high school senior to fully appreciate this movie which was clearly targeted at the 17-20 year old demographic that is sex crazed, high and ready to party. I thought this movie was legitimately intense and psychotic. 7.5/10

    • You could be right. As someone is is now ten years removed from high school, this movie just looks like mindless dribble aimed at a demo that I haven’t been a part of for quite some time. Then again, I loved Superbad. It had actual jokes and heart. Project X just looks like 90 minutes of nonsense. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it; but I’ll pass.

    • I’m not “old” but I can honestly say that the way young people act now-a-days just annoy the crap out of me. Everytime I’m around a bunch of high-school students I just want to walk over and smack every last one of them and tell them to shut the hell up… It makes me sad, the new generation just seems SO stupid, all of their opinions are so dumb and based on the dumbest ideas, seriously, the world is going to tear itself apart if this is our future… Not saying you, don’t know you or how you are, just saying in general…

      • That’s so mature to stereotype an entire generation. And that’s all I have to say about that.

      • You sound old, and that’s pretty harsh to criticize a generation like that. You seem very close minded. But every generation said the same thing looking down upon the new generation.

        • @Jeremy and Widdly,

          When you have a generation that considers Jersey Shore a popular show and even thinks of Snookie as a “sex symbol” (which is a joke), then it’s hard to disagree with Ken J.

          • @Ghost

            “even thinks of Snookie as a “sex symbol””

            Geez, I think I’m going to puke…

            • lets make this clear: NOBODY considers snookie a sex symbol. MTV may glamorize her as a “seductive character” but thats as far as it goes.

              • @jordan j

                Let’s hope you’re right, because if you’re not, then this world is coming to an end sooner than I thought…

                • @jordan j

                  one word: beiber.

      • You just sound so uneducated stereotyping and entire generation.

        • Hey, at least I can speak proper English unlike some commenters on here… ;-)

    • I am a recent High School grad and even I think this movie looks like a complete waste of time.

    • Widdly -

      I said that exact thing! – “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 problem, for me at least, with respect, is that the movie doesn’t really “say” anything intelligent about that 17-20 demographic. Similar films in prior decades tried to make sense of the chaos – this one just seems to revel in it.

      • im 18 im a senior … its just what happens the directior must have a son or aomething cus literally saturday night from 9 to 2 nothing “makes sense”

    • could not agree more dude … class of 2012 and i loved it haha

  9. I wasn’t surprised that this movie wasn’t that good. It wants to be outrageous, but it instead ends up being things that we’ve all seen before.

  10. Yano i kept expecting this film to have some secretive twist halfway through and become a horror film. i guess it doesnt. no interest

  11. i’m a senior in high school, not big on parties but been to enough that i can be talked into watching this movie. it was horrible. Basically it was a dream for anyone who hasn’t been to a party and a twenty minute post movie conversation about how “we should totally do that dude”. Horrible movie, not funny.

    Even for people who liked this movie (which i can’t understand, but i can’t understand people liking the hangover) it will be forgotten in a few weeks and probably recounted as their own stories in a few years.

    Don’t lump all high school students together. Were mostly not idiots.

    • Art – Hopefully you didn’t think I was lumping high schoolers together in the review. I had merely indicated that high school seniors “may” have more to connect with here than average movie-goers. I agree that the film paints teens as a bunch of attention-seeking automatons – and a film that showed a bit more balance would have ultimately provided something significantly more insightful.

    • Dude, get your keyboard fixed…

      • Yes lol

    • @mike costa could not agree more! being in the class of 2012, my perspective of this movie is much different from most people who are out of school. Being in high school i can relate to this kid freaking out when randoms show up and it gets out of hand. Also i can relate to gawking over the school hot girl and doing anything to get her attention. People forget what its like to be a teenager and i believe this movie was meant to target teenagers and it was a film that me and alot of my friends loved, even though it was over the top. Keep that in mind when judging this movie…it was not meant for adults who forgot what it was like to be a kid.

  12. @Ben
    Great Review Ben!I couldnt agree more. i’d just like to add that the most frustrating thing about this movie is that a bunch of jerk teenagers are bound to decide to re-enact something like this and they’re going to get seriously hurt. i usually hate acting like a parent by making those annoying comments, but when i first saw the trailer, thats the first thing i thought. i just wish i could get my money back

    • No one will try to reenact this, teenagers aren’t that stupid.

      • @Dude

        Um… would you like to reconsider this statement??? I’m pretty sure I’ve PERSONALLY witnessed teenagers who are well beyond the “stupid enough” threshold…

  13. I went to this movie with the lowest expectations. My friend kind of dragged me into it since it was just another boring friday night. The reason I didn’t expect much from this film was because I thought Superbad was one of the most moronic films I have ever seen. Then I saw The Hangover and was corrected in my beliefs. THAT was the most moronic film I have ever seen. It just didn’t make sense to me why these films were so popular.

    Now with all of that said, I really enjoyed this movie.

    I know right? But hear me out.
    I did not go into this movie expecting a gem. Its a party movie, meant for pure entertainment and insanity. Of course its not going to bring a freaking compelling story that’ll make you cry and make the movie award worthy. It was just for fun. And I thought it was pretty hilarious,it had me laughing from beginning to end. Personally, I don’t think there has ever been a movie with more sodomy in it. And I felt almost bad watching it, but it was a lot of fun and I am glad that I watched it.

    • the relation to superbad is a bit off. superbad was about using a party to become popular, it was supposed to have a strong story. X is about the party, popularity has less to do with it than it seems. it is the result, were as Superbad it was the goal and it had the story to match. plus, the fact that X was designed to mirror a found footage film means that it is more chaotic and less structured by nature. i loved this movie because it felt real. i don’t know when the last time anyone reviewing this movie has been to a HS or college party, but there is a similar sense of chaos at one. there is no structure at a party. it is simply pure chaotic fun (and sex, humans are creatures of desire). on a side note most all parties are more boring to watch than to experience. i hate being the DD, because alcohol is a social lubricant. and its that fact that adds to the experience.
      YOUR MISSION: go to a college party, have fun, and find the over arching story. if you can’t find the story, it’s because there probably isn’t one. if you don’t have fun anyways you failed because you missed one of the most important things about the party: the party itself. X is about that experience. X is about having fun. X is about being human, because we want to have fun no matter the reason. thank you for reading this lengthy review.
      this movie has graced my list of favorite movies of all-time, which does include mostly movies with incredible stories, such as, goodfellas, forrest gump, schindler’s list, and the matrix, because it is just plain fun!
      4.9/5 Stars

      • Did you really, did you reeeeaaaaally, just put this movie in the same category as Forrest Gump and the Matrix!!! Have you been hit on the head. Were you born with a nail in your head?? I hope you are joking

    • sorry jay meant to submit a review not reply to your’s

      • It’s cool. It got me to read your entire review so it wasn’t a total loss ;)

    • Super Bad and The Hang Over were meant to be pure entertainment and insanity too.

      • The thing is, they failed to entertain. They just bored and annoyed me.

  14. this was hands down the best movie i have ever seen. if u look at its popularity then you should know you are completely wrong. the only reason someone shouldn’t like this is if they are old or just a dull person. i doubt ‘ben kendrick enjoyed high school because if he did this would have brought back awesome (exaggerated) memories and given him the urge to do something crazy.

    • This may be the saddest comment I’ve read on here in quite some time.

      • @Paul

        Agreed… I had a blast in high school, just unlike the current generation, I didn’t have to be a complete moron in order to do so…

      • I can see why the world is about to come to an end.

        • LOL

    • Agree, best movie ever.

      • Best movie ever? I’m sorry but you just lost all commenting
        privileges. Does this movie have things that can and will appeal to a certain crowd? Sure. But best movie ever? I honestly feel bad for anyone who says that, cause you obvioulsy havent seen many films. But than again, this movie is aimed at the generation which made Twilight popular.

    • Love this comment. Everyone who “hates” this movie needs to open their minds.

      • @Dude

        LOL, not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not, but if you were, you’re genius, if not, then… um… not quite so smart, lol. :-D

  15. C/O 12. Anyway this movie I think was ment to be exactlly what it is, a high school movie. No it doesn’t have strong characters or story line but who cares. In high school everybody wants to be excepted by all and this party did it for Thomas will forever be cool after that party. 3/5

  16. That review was god awful, the movie was in no way boring. The review was right in a sense that it was very intellectual, it was more of a dumbed down comedy, but thats what it was advertised as

    • Agreed, it was meant to be over the top and target teenagers’ sense of entertainment. Hated the review as well because it is obviously from a very close-minded adult who is into intellectual movies and whatnot

    • Are you sure it’s the most craziest? Or maybe just the more craziest, or the halfway craziest, or the most crazier??

      • Maybe it’s the most dopest craziest? :-D

        • It’s the most better craziest everer!! :-D

          Somehow I knew it’ll take a fellow grown-up to understand the joke, hahaha. :-P

          • Seems like it takes adults to figure out this movie is garbage. 8-)

    • @Charlenia AGREED!

      • @Dude

        Is there a prize for most comments?

  17. I liked it! I mostly liked the fact that people of all shapes and sizes and races could all party together and have a great time together regardless of their differences. Sadly, in my town cliques don’t mingle like that. EVER.I also thought it was there were some scenes that were just hilarious.

  18. i bet all the people saying its ‘the best movie of the year etc’ are all the same person going around posting under different names to make this PoS sound good. looks like trash, total bs and who ever thinks this PoS is coo, and that teens act like this need a f***ing wake up call. never in my time in high school did any of us think of doing something stupid like this, yes we had house p[arties, but nothing stupid or over the top, and yes we did have fun getting wasted, listen to music smoke weed and play with girls, but nothing ever got out of had.

    this movie will only appeal to teenage americans b/c no other country contains teens that are into bs like 90210, jersey shore or any of those f***ed up american reality/drama shows.

  19. So, I saw this movie today. It was the only movie showing at that time and all I knew about it was that it was a movie based on a party. I have to say, I agree with this review. To the FULl extent. I also think we may have some trolls in this comment section. Im 19, and I laughed a couple of times but overall, I believe firmly of every single thing said in this review and the ending was just.. Absurd.

    Skip it.

  20. Yeah dont listen, if someone actually believes this is “the best movie ever” then clearly it is the only film they have seen “ever”.