* 1/2 (out of ****)
Project X is the story of a high school kid named Thomas, and how his birthday party became the biggest house party in the history of Northern Pasadena. In the beginning of the film, it is revealed that Thomas’ dad thinks he is a loser. In the beginning of the film, it is revealed that Thomas has a female friend named Kirby. Even though they have been platonic friends for their entire lives, there is a clear chemistry between them. They like each other. At the end of the movie, the dad, looking around at his destroyed house, can’t help but be surprised and proud of his son. By the end of the movie, Thomas and Kirby are a couple. Now you know all of the plot points of the movie. Everything that’s left in the movie is footage of an “outrageous” high school party. Now you don’t have to watch this God forsaken shitstorm of pure, human garbage. Don’t say I’ve never done you any favors.
Project X is in love with how groundbreakingly badass it is. It has nothing to offer its audience but this gigantic party, and so that’s all it focuses on. Admittedly, the party is epic, but not necessarily in the way the filmmakers intended. Up until a drug dealer with a flamethrower shows up (more on that asinine bullshit later), it’s just scene after scene showing us every cliched thing from every other party in every other movie, from every party we’ve all been to in real life. It’s epic, not in its scope, but in its length. It goes on for so long that you just become numb. This, in no situation that I can think of, is a good idea. But there are things the movie could have done to help itself out. They could have showed us footage of the party they promised us, or they could have shown us footage of the party they did, but have it feature something that even remotely resembles a complex character we could give a fuck about. Everyone involved with Project X makes it immediately known that not only are they not interested in any of that, they are incapable of it.
For the most part, Hollywood actually does have a pretty good vetting process. I know that may sound crazy, especially if you go out and watch all of the crap that your local multiplex has to offer. That crap is different than this crap, though. If you think about it, you can come up with a reason why all of that exists. Most of the time, it’s on purpose, like the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. It has an intended audience that doesn’t care if it’s crap. And even though it’s crap and knows it’s crap, it’s still pretty slick, well-made crap. Then there’s the crap that wasn’t intended, but fell apart for no other reason than a lot of people work on movies, and if one particular person does a terrible job, or many people do a mediocre job, the movie will dissolve into crap. It was nobody’s plan to make a terrible movie, but sometimes shit happens. Mistakes were made, and hopefully the next one will be better. Still, you can see how and why the movie was made and, if a couple of things went differently, this crap could have been OK. See? Hollywood, although responsible for a lot of crap, still has a pretty good vetting system. That’s what makes something like Project X even more of a surprise.
Every single 15 year-old kid has had the idea to make a movie about the biggest party of all time. It’s a backdrop that has everything you need for a story: giant cast, room for jokes, boobs, booze, and boobs. What else is there? The fact that these hacks got the opportunity to do this means that they have found that Je ne sais quoi, that something to bring to the table that every other 15 year-old would have been incapable. But they aren’t filmmakers! That’s the ultimate prank. The studio heads randomly picked one of those fifteen year-olds, seemingly at random, and let them stumblefuck their way through this entire thing. Not a single part of this movie is original, much less tolerable.
This movie, produced by Todd Phillips, clearly wants to be The Hangover, but that’s mostly in attitude. A recent movie that’s closer to this, as far as plot goes, is Superbad. The party in Superbad wasn’t memorably epic, that’s true. That’s something that Project X will always have over it. But what Superbad lacks in a memorable main event, it makes up for in two memorable main characters, with a memorable relationship, memorable crushes, spouting out memorable dialogue. Project X didn’t aim for all of that, or even a fraction of it, and not achieve their goals. That shit was never even on their radar. I know I’m too old for this movie, and I don’t understand the plight of the teenager. I just don’t get it. But someday, Project X fans, you’ll be old too, and you won’t like such fucking shitty movies.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME
*** (out of ****)
Check out this week’s PopFilter Podcast for the friends’ review of Jeff, Who Lives at Home!!!
**1/2 (out of ****)
David Wain officially has enough comedies under his directorial belt that we all kind of know what style of movie we’re getting, and with Mr. Wain, we’re getting a script that’s going to throw a million jokes at you. The success of the movie will be based on the film’s batting average. Wet Hot American Summer hit .404. Wanderlust hits about .250, but has some power in clutch situations. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play a married couple that get kicked in the throat by the recession, and fall so far out of their Manhattan lifestyles that they land on a hippie farm, full of free-spirted, naked, dirty people. The jokes that work make this worth watching, especially with a cast like this. But be careful: the ones that suck suck wholeheartedly.