Not to be confused with the 1987 drama starring Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, and an adorable chimpanzee actor named Willie, 'Project X' is a vile, debased piece of garbage that literally aims for the lowest-common denominator. And no, that's not hyperbole. The movie actually and very proudly wants only similar minded guests to attend this birthday bash while giving the bird to neighbors and haters alike, or anyone with reasonable tastes for entertainment in general. Don't expect to learn anything from this or acquire some faint hope for the future of our civilization, because you will wake up the next morning feeling nauseous and empty inside, wondering what the hell you watched last night.
From a script by Michael Bacall, who gave us the thousand times better 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World' and '21 Jump Street,' the story breaks all the rules by not actually breaking any at all. It's a standard, strictly by-the-book teen-sex comedy à la 'Superbad,' clothed in the found-footage subgenre, pretending to act cool and hoping no one will notice. But like the two freshmen who keep sneaking into the party, we did notice, and the two worst child security guards (Brady Hender and Nick Nervies) in the world should've tasered you a long time ago. 'Project X' literally brings nothing new to the table except excessively glorifying the anarchy of teenage hormones, built upon the stupidest plot device imaginable. Parents' anniversary falls on the same day as their only son's birthday, and they plan a weekend getaway alone! Seriously?!
The sheer lack of originality — or a single creative thought for that matter — starts when a trio of the biggest losers in school throw a game-changing party and each one adheres to prescribed characterizations. Birthday boy Thomas (Thomas Mann) is the innocent straight-A student that no one even knows exists. His so-called best friend, Costa (Oliver Cooper), wants to change that, but the kid is one of the most annoying and grading things about the entire movie, like the nickel's worth version of Jonah Hill without a shred of comedic talent. JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) is another friend but feels as if part of the group just so that filmmakers can make fat jokes. Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton) is Thomas's childhood friend caught in the middle of this mindless nonsense simply as a narrative device. The utterly, mind-numbingly formulaic depravity is caught on tape by Dax (Dax Flame), who is always conveniently in the right place at the right time.
'Project X' is essentially a 90-minute music video of misogynistic debauchery which unimaginably celebrates it and even encourages it to some extent, despite the lame text warnings claiming otherwise at the beginning. The movie goes out of its way to undermine the last three decades of the feminist movement with constant, almost-endless images objectifying supposedly underage girls. Granted, there are many movies which do the same, especially within the horror genre. But they also try to redeem themselves with at least one genuine female character. Here, there is not a single woman that goes beyond an immature boy's ogling, drooling sexual fantasy, and this includes the one-note Kirby, which is Hollywood's typical stereotype of the unpopular girl made fun of in 'Not Another Teen Movie.' Its only saving grace is seeing things grow progressively worse until one party-crasher shows up with a flamethrower, which also turns out to be the party's most exciting moment.
In the end, the movie from first-time director Nima Nourizadeh doesn't try to engage audiences with a good story or even decent characters, but provide an limitless indulgence of drunken revelry, a Bacchanalia for the Facebook, digital age. I get that filmmakers want to return to the raunchy teen comedy genre like 'Animal House,' 'Revenge of the Nerds,' 'Risky Business,' 'Weird Science' and, of course, 'House Party,' but they do it at the expense of also telling a good story. What ultimately kills the movie for me is not really its offensive nature, the plain stupidity on display or its complete disregard to think of women with the mildest decency. It's the horribly formulaic plot used for celebrating imagined teenage depravity while hinting at the absence of regrettable consequences so long as you become the most admired kid on campus. Apparently, and according to 'Project X,' the most important thing in life is gaining the approval of your peers from high school.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Home Video brings 'Project X' to Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack, dubbed the "#XTENDEDCUT to the Break of Dawn, Yo!" With a shiny cardboard slipcover, the blue eco-vortex case houses both discs — one Region Free, BD50 while the other a DVD-9 copy — on opposing panels with a code for an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The extended cut adds 6 minutes of minor dialogue and more scenes of teenage debauchery.
Considering the movie was shot with a variety of sources — a good deal with cellphones but much of it done with digital HD cameras — we can't reasonably expect this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) to knock our socks off. Although true to the intentions of filmmakers, the digital-to-digital transfer won't compare to some of the best high-def releases.
Contrast is well-balanced for the most part with great visibility of background information in the distance, but whites tend to run very hot with some posterization and blooming, which ruins the finer details. Blacks are very deep and accurate, but the image never has any sense of depth and a couple scenes, mainly from footage of phones, is riddled with mosquito noise. Colors are also good with primaries benefiting the most, though there's nothing standout about the overall palette either. The video comes with decent definition and clarity, except the picture's digitized appearance makes the entire thing very rough and unexciting.
All in all, the transfer stays to true to the intentions of filmmakers, but it's also not likely to impress anyone.
Where this Blu-ray ultimately shines is not surprisingly in the audio department with one bass-heavy song after another. The low-end can be breathtakingly powerful and intense, reaching some serious ultra-low frequencies during several scenes. In other parts where music is heard in the background, the sub remains terrifically responsive with persuasive authority and a pounding bass line. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is complemented with an excellent and very extensive dynamic range, maintaining superb clarity and detail between the high and mids.
Although several segments are dialogue-heavy, which sound great and intelligible throughout, the front soundstage is quite wide and engaging for much of the movie's runtime. Channel separation is outstanding with fluid movement and plenty of activity within the image. Rears are not always active, but when employed at certain times, the soundfield expands and fills the room with endless commotion, enveloping the listening area convincingly and pulling us into the middle of the chaos.
The movie may be mind-numbingly stupid, but this lossless mix will make you feel as if you're at the party.
Along with the UltraViolet Digital Copy, one supplement is shared between the two formats.
From first-time director Nima Nourizadeh, 'Project X' is a weak attempt at raunchy entertainment about a trio kids throwing a house party which goes horribly wrong. With no redeeming value whatsoever but an endless barrage of debased teenage behavior, it tries to recapture the teen-sex comedies of the past but fails miserably due to a terribly dull formulaic plot that focuses more on the debauchery than at telling a good story. The party continues on Blu-ray with a good picture quality, considering its source, but an even better, near-reference audio presentation. The small collection of supplements will make many wary of a purchase, but the extended cut being a high-def exclusive will be more than enough to convince fans of picking this up.