Tune out revolting teen-party mess 'Project X'

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2012 - 2:31 PM

The best response to this inane party movie is to call the cops - like that'll do any good.

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Oliver Cooper, Thomas Mann, and Jonathan Daniel Brown get crazy in "Project X."

It's always a pleasure to announce the arrival of a well-written, expertly staged and sensitively acted comedy. Today we turn instead to the catastrophically stupid "Project X."

"Project X" was produced by Todd Phillips, whose obnoxious "Hangover" movies look like models of restrained good taste by comparison. I feel that the filmmakers owe me some form of compensation. They have made a chaotic, disorganized film about a chaotic, disorganized high school party. It tells the story of three losers whose open house boils over into an orgy of destruction, and a plain old orgy. Ibiza has never seen a rave this wild. The moral? If you turn your neighborhood into an apocalyptic wasteland, causing untold damage to property and people, you will be transformed from a nerd outcast to awesome rebel school hero. Thanks a lot, Todd, because we really can't encourage this kind of thing enough.

The film's found-footage "gimmick" lost its novelty five minutes after "Cloverfield." Yet every character and story beat is an eye-rolling, credibility-straining, half-baked teen movie cliché. High school senior Thomas (Thomas Mann) is a no-status geek with the hots for the vapid campus beauty, though a blind man can see he will end up with pretty, heart-of-gold Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). His only friends are a pair of standard-issue youth comedy nerds who push him to hold a weekend blast for his 17th birthday. His parents are ciphers who lay down the house rules ("no wild parties"), then hand him the keys and leave town.

Surprise, surprise, a thousand kids pile in and things get crazy. Drugs come out and bras come off. Approximately $1 million worth of booze that mysteriously appeared from somewhere is guzzled. Much of it is spewed back up on camera. Windows are smashed. A car goes into the pool. A neighbor who asks them to tone it down gets Tasered. An angry little person throws a lot of crotch-level punches. I'm all for comic anarchy, but this is just a sea of anonymous kids acting wild, which soon becomes dull as a puddle of mud.

It's possible to make this sort of jackassery accessible and appealing if -- like "Pineapple Express" or "Superbad" -- you include characters that viewers care about. These jerkbags have no goals beyond getting drunk, getting laid and getting in with the in crowd. This is a film desperately in need of a McLovin. Also, jokes would help. And comedic chemistry between the actors. And an ending that isn't a bolted-on cop-out. Save yourselves. It's too late for me.

  • PROJECT X

    1/2 out of four stars

    Rating: R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem -- all involving teens.

    RottenTomatoes.com: read reviews

    Showtimes: view listings

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