2 stars out of 4
Depending on your age, tastes and understanding of right and wrong there are two possible ways you'll perceive the two stars given to this movie.
The first would be: "Two stars! -- are you crazy?! This is the ultimate teen party epic! You're crazy and out of touch, dude." The second would be: "How could you give any credence to a film that has no plot, no redeeming social value whatsoever and encourages minors to break the law? You're being irresponsible."
Both perceptions are completely understandable and correct; it's all in how you view it.
From a technical standpoint "Project X" (the unimaginative working title that makes for an even more unimaginative final title) does little to improve on the getting-close-to-overexposed found-footage method of filming. This is especially obvious if you went to a present-day party -- any party where teens are present. Every one of them is capturing there own found-footage with their state-of-the-art iPhones. Instead of one camera, rookie director Nima Nourizadeh should have either used hundreds or gone the traditional route.
As teen party blowout flicks are concerned, "Project X" is without peer and makes productions such as "Animal House," "Porky's" or "House Party" come off looking like boring little tea-and-crumpet get-togethers at your grandma's house. To get into the finer details of what takes place throughout wouldn't be spoiling it as much as it would be challenging your sense of disbelief. There are things that take place at this party that are usually reserved for war zones and ancient Roman orgies.
Do the filmmakers get it right? Meaning does this look like what could really happen if thousands of conscious-free, unchecked, underage teens with lots of drugs, liquor and minimal clothing would do if given the chance? The answer is an unqualified yes. It is so authentic it could act as a perfect tutorial for any future parties or be the preventer of any parent ever going away for the weekend without their teen children ever again.
Ever since humans began walking upright -- but mostly in the last century -- every generation of teenagers go through "rights of passage" where they engage in dangerous behavior that can sometimes border on life-threatening and always be an irritant to their parents. This is a given and will continue as surely as the next sunrise.
Given what teens are exposed to today via video games, the Internet and reality TV what takes place in "Project X" isn't at all surprising or shocking. Each subsequent act must be more outrageous or outlandish than the last or it's considered monumentally lame. If you can't out-do what's come before you're a loser. This isn't young people having fun or blowing off steam, it's thousands of budding hedonists engaged in a game of group chicken where there are no victors.
What's most disturbing about the movie isn't its lack of plot or imagination (most of the characters are given the same first name as the actors portraying them) but rather the general absence of fallout, consequence or culpability. In real life many people would be going to jail or would be dead.
Other than getting a mild slap on the wrist or a half-hearted admonishment, everyone walks (or crawls) away from the devastation unscathed and without blame. A few of the characters are actually praised and regarded as heroes in the aftermath by their peers for their actions. This is where the filmmakers (which includes producer Todd Phillips of "Hangover" fame) really miss the boat. There isn't a single mixed-message in the entire film; everything in it says do whatever you want without fear of any genuine reprisal.
If the reaction of the preview audience (almost entirely teens) is any kind of indicator, "Project X" is going to be a huge hit at the box-office. They laughed and cheered the entire time and upon exiting began feverishly texting their friends. It wouldn't be going out on a limb to conclude many of them were probably suggesting that they (or some impressionable and malleable acquaintance of theirs) host a party like this one some time real soon.
Are there any parents out there going away this weekend without your teenage children? Best of luck to you and be sure to confirm the exact amount of coverage contained in your homeowner's insurance before you leave. (Warner Bros.)