Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project X

Night Of The Living Anarchists, In North Pasadena

Oliver Cooper as Costa and Thomas Mann as Thomas in Nima Nourizadeh's comedy "Project X". 
Warner Brothers


Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
Wednesday, February 29
, 2012

La-di-Da-di, we like to party," goes Slick Rick's song.  And do they ever like to party in North Pasadena, California.  Teens run amok and unleash their inner anarchists in "Project X", the anthropological incubator of unyielding physical misadventure from director Nima Nourizadeh.  Produced by "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips, the raucous comedy opens across the U.S. and Canada on Thursday night at midnight.

Aspiring to be a hybrid of "Superbad", "Animal House", "Fast Times At Ridgemont High", "Hangover" and "Porky's", "Project X", about a high school honors student's 17th birthday party gone wild, rides largely on the fumes of its own repetition.  Taking place on one single day and night, the film is about Thomas (Thomas Mann), the birthday boy.  His dad (Peter Mackenzie), who thinks little of Thomas despite his achievements, grants Thomas use of the house for a small party while he and Thomas's mother (Caitlin Dulany) leave town for the weekend to celebrate their wedding anniversary.  "Don't touch the car," his dad advises.  You know what will happen.

The second his parents leave Thomas and his best friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) spread the word around school of Thomas's huge party.  The crude, compulsively foul-mouthed Costa wants sex badly and believes the more girls arriving at Thomas's the better his chances of getting laid.  He goes on what Reggie Hammond or Jack Cates of "48 Hrs." would affectionately call a "trim hunt", with J.B. riding shotgun.  One by one partiers show up, and soon, in concert arena-sized numbers.  Chaos ensues.  An assortment of teenage women's breasts, legs, buttocks, general nakedness, drugs and grade-A foolishness breaks out. 

A raunchy, full-scale visceral experience, "Project X" is either a fantasy romp for a previously inhibited, strait-laced boy or a nihilistic opera for the rest of us.  This film is aimless but the more distracted it gets the more focused it is in its visceral appetite, which, accompanied by an endlessly shaking, vomit-inducing hand-held camera, spins wildly out of control. 

In a strange way "Project X" simmers and crescendos like "Do The Right Thing", its verbal banter intensifying until a carnival of violence suddenly explodes in your face with the anger and ferocity of a mass riot.  Unlike that landmark film there's little to learn or take away from the brainless noise and nonsense of "Project X", whose title should instead have been "Planet Anarchy".  The camera man in charge of the unruly visions we are held hostage to is one Dax, a teen of relative mystery whom we are told lives alone.  Is the film's title the name of Dax's video shoot-as-school project?  Is the shoot a project for a biology class?  If so, what kind of grade does he possibly expect to receive?  An X?

"Project X" is an experience best enjoyed by teenagers or the teenager inside you.  It's sheer short-attention span theme park-theater hatched on a roller coaster that has long forgotten how to stop.  Mr. Nourizadeh captures teen spirit with fervor but the resulting destruction is more fit for a video game not the flower-power generation.  There's no hippies or Yippies at this shindig.  Even the jocks and bullies you expect to see in such rambunctious films are largely out of view.  There's only an undersized malcontent who loses it and two pint-sized but overzealous party security guards, who are the funniest thing about a film that's occasionally laugh-out loud funny. 

"Project X" is a pure get-your-rocks-off, every man-and-woman-for-their-own-prurient pursuits-extravaganza.  The film, stuffed with boundless incorrectness, embodies the spirit of a generation of pleasure seekers who know what time it is but hardly care.  At least "Project X" pushes past its trappings and takes its nuttiness to the next stage, although we have to wait nearly an hour for that to happen.  Until then, there's one predictable episode after another to zigzag through.

The film's hip-hop soundtrack, including Eminem's "White Trash Party", pulses throughout like an anthem.  Rock and roll need not apply for this Pasadena playlist, nor, for that matter, should anyone over 20 seeking a party invite.  With those rules Abbie Hoffman wouldn't have been able to enter this party, even though at least one adult gatecrashes it to become an honorary teenager.  If there's anything to take away from an otherwise static, pointless, go-through-the motions experience, it's that "Project X" embraces its pleasure seekers and property destroyers in equal measure. 

North Pasadena will never be the same, nor will those gnomes or dogs.  If you dare or care, be sure to see this film on an empty stomach or heavily imbibed.  Or both.  Heck, you only live once on this earth.

With: Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Brady Hender, Nick Nervies, Miles Teller, Alexis Knapp, Rob Evors, Martin Klebba, Pete Gardner, Rick Shapiro, Nichole O'Connor, Chic Daniels, Kevin Dunigan, Serene Branson, Jodi Harris, Sophia Santi, Anna Sophia Berglund.

"Project X" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for crude and  sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem -- all involving teens.  Dear MPAA: you forgot vomiting and urination.  The film's running time is one hour and 28 minutes.

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