By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin March 2, 2012 at 8:50PM
So, is this merely an extreme teenage version of The Hangover, or is it another sign of the end of civilization as we know it? How you feel about Project X will have a lot to do with your age and gender. If I were a hormonally charged 16-year-old boy, I might think it was the greatest movie ever made, a wish-fulfillment comedy featuring lots of good-looking naked girls.
As a parent, I have quite another view: it’s a horror movie! Using the template of The Hangover (made by Todd Phillips, who produced this film), a self-appointed cool dude decides to throw his shy pal a 17th birthday party he’ll never forget, while his parents are away for the weekend. To say that it goes out of control is a mild understatement.
I know Project X is not meant to be taken literally, or even seriously. It’s a 2012 revision of Risky Business crossed with Animal House, only much more crude, as befits the current trend in comedy. What sets the film apart is its willingness to gleefully cross every line on the road to total anarchy. (The only copout is the old-fashioned ending involving the hero and his girlfriend.)
If I were an adolescent girl this movie would make me want to move to another continent rather than suffer the foul-mouthed, condescending outlook of the “typical” high-school boys depicted here.
But my biggest complaint about Project X is that it isn’t true to its own premise. The picture is supposedly a video diary taken by a hanger-on who follows the three central characters around during the planning and execution of this party-to-end-all-parties…except when director Nima Nourizadeh decides that the concept is inconvenient and cuts to shots from other points of view. (An opening title card explains that some of the footage comes from law enforcement and other sources. Nice try.)
In any case, this movie wasn’t intended for me. Come to think of it, I should be grateful for that.