Thomas (Thomas Mann) turns 17 and to celebrate, he throws a party while his parents are away. Little beknownst to him, his friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) has decided that this will be the night that will change their lives and has publicised the party all over town.
Do you remember the story of Corey Delaney, the kid in Australia who posted an intive to his party on MySpace and 500 people turned up? Well this is pretty much the same story. Thomas’s parents tell him he can have a handful of people over to the house, but by 11.30pm the back yard is full of people, there are two DJs and a dog in a bouncy castle. The movie plays like a music video or an episode of Skins (back when it was actually interesting), and there is little more to it than people getting rowdy and the neighbourhood getting trashed.
The characters are fairly one dimensional, but this movie is not a character study, it is a look at what happens when a good party goes bad; girls strip, people jump off the roof and the music is loud. There are moments of laugh out loud humour in the movie, especially when an angry little person (Martin Klebba) is thrown into the oven and punches everyone in the crotch when he is finally set free. There is a slight romantic storyline and an angry drug dealer thrown in for the sake of motivation, and to finally break up the party.
The idea of using ‘found footage’ in the style of cinema verité has been used many times in recent year, but always within the realm of disaster or horror movies. Project X ends up being a disaster movie and plays with the style, as well as the almost real time scale, and this works to its advantage. There are little touches to the characters that work; Costa’s continuous use of a chalice to drink from, Thomas’s fear of repercussions, which is only assuaged by Ecstasy and a lot of alcohol and B.J (Jonathan Daniel Brown) whose crippling nerdiness holds him back for much of the movie. The use of kids as security is inspired and funny – they take their roles far too seriously – and it is not surprising that they are unable to stop everything from going wrong, and the poor dog ends up in a bouncy castle and tied to balloons in an homage to Up. The humour stays juvenile for most of the movie, but anyone who has been a kid, or is still a big kid who relishes ‘That’s what she said’ jokes will appreciate it.
It would be easy to be hard on Project X, but we have to think about the type of people that the film is aimed at. This is not one for the discerning film viewer who, thought The Tree of Life was one of last year’s best films. Instead Project X is aimed at the teenage market and never claimed to do anything but capture one wild night on film. Which it does, admirably. The film ends up being an homage to the amazing high school party that everyone wishes they could throw and deserves commendation for its use of Heads Will Roll by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, if nothing else.