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Project X—movie review

by Leonard Maltin
March 2, 2012 8:50 PM
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Project X

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.

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  • Ben Robin | May 22, 2014 8:47 AMReply

    This movie has no redeeming features, both brainless and soulless with absolutely no point whatsoever. When you look the far superior movies which tackle somewhat similar subject matters for other generations, (24 Hour Party People, Human Traffic etc) it is tempting to start pondering the impending collapse of Western civilization as it entropies into a nihilistic spiritual void. But some of the girls are fit right!? ....

  • bob | August 18, 2012 4:28 AMReply

    U guys r a bunch of losers espeacialy brian wtf its just a movie and its mean look at the funny side of it (and the boobies) so shut up and appreciate the movie.

  • Christina | July 30, 2012 2:33 AMReply

    (Sorry for the bad english, but english is my third language) Im 26 and I have had my share of "wild years", however i felt so shoked after watching Project X. According whit me, this movie is promoting; self-centered behavior, a mindless -and materialistic lifestyle, that requires enough money to get away whit beeing a complete asshole, and finally it teaches us that "good looks" is more important than both depth and interlect.. yes, i felt like i was watching "the end of civilisation".

  • MICHELLE | July 5, 2012 11:16 PMReply

    i just didnt like the animal abuse part, i really didnt like the movie.

  • JOSh | May 11, 2012 5:48 PMReply

    Brian is a fucking DOUCHBAG.....half of his comments fills the page GO FUCK OFF

  • Maria | March 10, 2012 11:59 PMReply

    Alllllll of you can just shut up!!!!!! The movie was awesome! We have a life! It will not kill you to just have one care-free day! Sometimes living and having fun will require you not think of the consequences and outcome! The movie ROCKED!!!! Have some fun and stop thinking so deeply on it!

  • Brian | March 11, 2012 7:48 PM

    We all have carefree days. Our carefree days do not involve destruction of property and animal abuse. If you don't think of the consequences, don't be surprised when you get charged for damage of private property. Too many of you just don't care and someday that's gonna cost you big time. This movie glorifies the idiocy rampant in today's teenagers. It's a warning for everyone else to barricade their doors and start stockpiling weapons. I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel. So prove me wrong.

  • Mark | March 10, 2012 1:42 PMReply

    its OK but the only reason all these other people hate against it is that they've never been invited to parties like this in their life so i recommend just watching it on a dvd rather than spending all your money in a theater

  • Konrad | April 10, 2013 4:42 AM

    The midget signed a contract, as did the people who got their nut sacks beaten up and they all got paid. The dog was terrified and didn't know what the hell was going on.

  • Anto | May 29, 2012 5:46 PM

    You care about animal abuse in a movie? What about the midget that was shoved in the f*ckin oven and started beating the living crap out of people's nut sacks? Isnt that abuse? It is a FILM. Films are a representation. Either fictional or realistic. If you think the approach of the film was realistic, shame on some "too much" care free teenagers. But you know what I laughed my ass off, watching, and I would have given anything to witness that party mate LOL!

  • tiff | March 10, 2012 12:47 AMReply

    I just went to the movies with my friend to see project x. We are both teens and left half way through. I can't believe my generation really finds the things in this film to be even remotely funny. I know it is ment to be funny and not taken seriously but it was just a bunch of ridiculous situations. A huge waste of time and money.

  • josh lee | May 11, 2012 5:33 PM

    well you must have never been invited to a big party like that so you left because you guys have no friends LMFAO

  • Jeffrey | March 9, 2012 11:44 AMReply

    Its easy to express dismay about the future when you look at whatever generation is in their teens. For once, I'd pick a more challenging, fairer target if you really want to emphasize a generational divide. That being said, this movie is not for me, either.

  • Brian | March 9, 2012 8:36 PM

    Sorry, but I can't agree with that. Just watching the trailer for this film is enough to make me very sad for youth of this country, especially if they're really as stupid as they are shown in the trailer (let alone the entire film, which I refuse to waste money on). Also, I read several reviews that mention that at one point, they tie helium balloons on a dog to watch him float away. I do not condone animal abuse and find this repugnant, yet it appears to be celebrated in this film. As for picking a "more challenging, fairer target," the youth shown in this picture are as fair a target as any. They are beyond hope. And that's just the painful truth.

  • Josh | March 9, 2012 12:47 AMReply

    First of all, it should be obvious that this party trumps all high school and college parties that have existed; it's hardly realistic. I'm a college student and i speak for myself and all my friends when i say this is the ultimate dream party that we wish we could be a part of. However, just because people take part in parties like these doesn't mean people are "devolving" I'm at college to become an engineer but i want to be able to look back on my college years and say i lived it to the fullest.

    Anyways, this movie is pure entertainment(even if its to just my demographic). I could care less about the quality of filming or the like ability of the characters, it was fun as hell to watch!

  • Brian | March 9, 2012 8:44 PM

    If you don't care about the likeability of the characters or the quality of the filmmaking, then that says all I need to know about you. If this is your idea of a dream party for both you and your friends, then you've just provided more evidence that people are indeed devolving. Burning down houses and tying helium balloons to a dog to see him float away is reprehensible behavior, as is throwing rocks at police who are trying to restore order. If I were one of those cops, I'd make sure I had plenty of tear gas on me to use on whatever pathetic squirt tries to throw rocks at me. I have no respect for that kind of behavior and if that makes me an old fart, so be it. I'm tired of seeing this kind of mindless, reckless behavior being condoned and celebrated in movies like this. Get some standards, will you, kid?

  • Brian | March 7, 2012 6:28 AMReply

    If this movie is truly indicative of the way today's teenagers are, then there is no hope for the future of this country. Disgusting doesn't begin to describe it. The whole lot of them deserves to be tear-gassed.

  • josh | May 11, 2012 5:39 PM

    lol Brian quite being such a fucking adult go fuck off with all your lame ass comments.... you must been brought up with no fun in your life never going to any parties. Of course this movie is just for entertainment and your obviously to fucking dumb to realize that putting so much effort on saying how this movie is soo bad SHUT THE FUCK UP DAMN LOL FUCKING DOUCHBAG

  • Brian | March 11, 2012 7:39 PM

    Well, someone has to do it. If you want to celebrate stupidity like this, there really isn't any hope for you. The scariest thing is that one day you'll get to voting age.

  • Richard | March 10, 2012 3:00 AM

    Cool down, take a step back, and think about the effort your putting into your words, and for what outcome?

  • Jack Offo | March 5, 2012 7:18 PMReply

    Just been an seen the film, from my point of vue is was amazing , showed what does happen in party's but not to the extent where the street is full of people and the street getting destroyed , I have had party's where the street was full of people , they where in my pool jacuzzi house bed rooms everything . But this film is just genius I want to have a party like that and I will

  • Norm | March 4, 2012 1:43 AMReply

    Well, cerebal is an interesting word to use with a film that guides a tangent line along the mind and keeps on going...You really have to wonder about the "evolution" process... Darwin got it wrong...Appreantly some people are devolving...That is scary...That might make a good film, where is S. King when you need him...

  • Jarod | March 3, 2012 10:22 PMReply

    Movies like this give me a misanthropic headache for being a member of the human race. These people have absolutely no sense of life. Everything they do is geared toward pretense and affectation. Where are the Ingmar Bergmans and Stanley Kubricks who delved into cerebral, existential explorations? Why is everything a repugnant simulation of life. Time to Soylent Green these morons.

  • Brian | March 20, 2012 2:46 PM

    No problem, Donny. Take care now.

  • Donny | March 20, 2012 9:55 AM

    I am not surprised by what you said, as most people would say the same. I will never agree with the majority of people on this (i.e., you), so debating it would be pointless. We have gone far enough off topic anyways. Good talking to you.

  • Brian | March 20, 2012 7:28 AM

    Yeah, I know about "A Serbian Film." That's a film I can completely live without seeing. As for your choosing the human over the animal, it depends on what kind of animal it is. If it's a dog, I would more than likely be more sympathetic to the dog than the human. Dogs can't help who they are. Humans can help who they are, but a lot of times they don't. And while a human can stab you in the back (not just literally: there are those who act like they're your friend then turn around and turn on you), a dog always waits for you, wags his tail and jumps on you when you come home no matter how long you've been away and, as is the case with my dog, sleeps with me and keeps me company at night. That is, if you treat the dog well enough...Here again, we see how loathsome humans can be when they beat their dogs and train them to attack other people. I'm not at all saying the entire human race is bad, but a more than sizeable portion of them are: rotten politicians, greedy bankers, shyster lawyers, militant dictators who'd love nothing more than to aim missles at countries that don't agree with them, the list goes on. However, the only time I could see myself killing an animal is if I'd have to eat and there's absolutely nothing else around. Or if that animal has me in his sight as his prey and is set to attack. The choice there is obvious.

  • Donny | March 20, 2012 12:48 AM

    Hobo With A Shotgun...nice. That movie was awesome (we agree on something!). That review of Project X was indeed hilarious and ridiculous, thanks for the laugh. And yes, Seltzerberg comedies are abominable, let them be forgotten forever. As for animal abuse, I honsetly will go to my grave not understanding people who get more upset over animal violence than violence against humans. It probably has to do with animals being more defenseless and all that, but I just don't get it. Not to say I condone it, of course, I find it terrible, but if I had a choice between having any animal die or any human die (and by "any human" I am obviously excluding people like Hitler or Ted Bundy and so on), I would kill the animal every time, no hesitation. And as for Salo, well, that was just the A Serbian Film of its time. The filmmaker decided to claim it was a political commentary, just to get more respect. A ridiculous lie, of course, and to people like that, I say, just admit that you wanted to make the most vile and disgusting film you wanted. Just admit it. I will personally respect you more for being honest.

  • Brian | March 20, 2012 12:18 AM

    Well, Donny, I am an animal lover and if I ever caught anyone trying to tie helium balloons to my dog, that would be the last thing that person ever does on this earth. I believe that people who intentionally harm dogs or cats or any other animal richly deserve to be soundly beat. And I'm fully aware that "Project X" is a work of fiction, but that still does not justify tying helium balloons to a dog's legs, regardless of whether it's "just a movie" or not. As for "mindless entertainment," it really depends on what it is for me. Contrary to what you may believe, there are plenty of "mindless" films that I have enjoyed over the years. The entire history of movies is filled with so-called mindless movies. And yes, there are indeed many enjoyable movies that fit the "mindless" category. I'm not saying that's wrong because I would be lying if I haven't watched a few myself. (One of my favorite films from last year was "Hobo with a Shotgun," to use an example.) That said, I feel that "Project X" really seems to be reflective of a lot of today's teenagers I sometimes see behavior as depicted in the film (at least in the trailer) out in the street and all I can do is just shake my head. I'm not at all saying that kids aren't supposed to party. When I was that age, we did too. But I can't recall any incidents where we burned down other peoples' houses. And I still can't get past the animal abuse issue. Then, there's that horrible techno dance beat crap that they play. I thought disco was bad enough, but this techno stuff is even worse. Someone is going to have to prove me wrong and let me know that not all of today's teenagers are like those depicted in "Project X," and yes, you're right, the film is obviously not for me. But then there are also so-called "art" films that are pretty boring (1962's "Last Year At Marienbad") and even disgusting (Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1975 "Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom," one of the most disgusting films ever made, even if it is supposed to be an attack on fascism) to me. I did read a review of "Project X" on a Christian web site that compared it to the ongoing rise of Communism in America, which I hope you will agree is one of the most ridiculous charges a film like "Project X" can get. (See if you don't believe me. Or don't. No harm done either way.) I certainly don't want to see any movies get banned, even something as militarily repulsive as "Salo" or "Bloodsucking Freaks" (1976). But I still feel the need and have the right to express my disgust whenever necessary. Nonetheless, I would still rather it play to its paying customers and be quickly forgotten (much like every film Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer inflict on the public...if you don't believe me, go into a used DVD store sometime and witness the amount of used copies of their movies that multiply on the store's shelves). BTW, I do hope "The Master" is a good movie. If Paul Thomas Anderson is behind it, it should at least be interesting. We'll see.

  • Donny | March 19, 2012 7:59 PM

    Okay. Firstly, I thought you meant you wanted to tear gas fans of the film, not the people in the film. In that case, I can agree with you, OF COURSE the party was out of hand and the people were engaging in dangerous crinimal activies. Tear gas would be in order (as for cannibalizing them, that is too far). I honestly thought you meant you wanted to tear gas people who liked the film. Sorry about that. Also, OF COURSE I am not going to emulate what I see in the movie (no more than I will emulate Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange), because IT'S JUST A MOVIE, and I happen to have liked it. And yes, the dog does get tied to a helium balloon in the film, my point was that it was CGIed and it did not happen in real life. I cannot stand people who will watch violence in a movie, and think it is fine (of course the violence is simulated), but if the violence is against an animal (again, SIMULATED), they get up in arms. This is an extremely hypocritical way to look at things, I daresay. But whatever, I have always not been an animal lover, so maybe that's me. As for 1971, you claim now that you would not have tried to have in censored, and as I don't know you, I will have to accept your statement at face value. And furthermore, yes, I OBVIOUSLY see this as "mindless entertainment," I don't mind a movie that provides that, as long as it is honest about it. If I went to see, say, The Master later this year (new Paul Thomas Anderson flick), and it wound up being mindless entertainment, I would be pissed off. But Project X is not pretending to be anything but, and as I don't mind that, I went in and got what I expected. The movie is clearly not for you, insofar as you don't enjoy mindless entertainment on the side of your more serious films. Again, as it is in fact mindless entertainment, I guarantee that I will not emulate the film, because IT'S JUST A MOVIE and anyone with a brain cell could see that. Finally, as for me being "soulless," well, you may well be right.

  • Brian | March 19, 2012 7:34 PM

    And another thing, Donny. You said there was no animal abuse in "Project X." Well, what do you call tying helium balloons to a dog's legs so he'll float away? You call that simply being playful? Sorry to burst your bubble, but that IS animal abuse and it is not funny, nor is it to be condoned. Every review I've read of this film has said this happens in the film, so unless it was somehow cut from the print you saw, I have no choice but to assume it is there. And there are plenty of so-called "trashy" movies I enjoy as well. But I have my limits and seeing animals being harmed in any or mindless rampant stupidity being tolerated is where I draw the line. The charges that this film is irresponsible are more than justified and if you dismiss them as ridiculous, then you are clearly the one that is blind. And no, I would not have been on the front lines to censor "A Clockwork Orange" in 1971. That's actually a great movie that tries to make a statement about how cold society was becoming. "Project X," whether you like it or not, makes a statement, too, by showing us the rampant brainlessness of today's teenagers. I only hope you really do see this as "mindless entertainment" and I hope you don't decide to emulate it, like so many others will no doubt do. And if my comments about tear-gassing the people in the film strike you as extreme, well, maybe they are. But it's still more lenient than what these kids really deserve.

  • Brian | March 19, 2012 7:16 PM

    Uhh, Donny, no one is denying you your right to see a movie like "Project X." But the rest of us also have rights to call this movie exactly what it is: a complete piece of garbage that glorifies idiotic behavior. If this movie is your idea of something so trivial, then maybe it's time you started getting some standards. I'm completely in Jarod's corner on this and your attempt to justify liking this is pretty pathetic. If you really believe that burning down peoples' houses and abusing animals is just trival, then that speaks volumes about your whole generation: that you're all a bunch of f---ing soulless idiots with no sense at all and no taste, either. I stand by my overreaction as you call it because I am sick and tired of seeing this kind of stuff romanticized and glorified the way it is in this film. Leonard is right: for those of us who are older, "Project X" is a horror movie about a horror that has become all too real everywhere. Whenever you start showing some signs of intelligence and soul, maybe then I'll change my mind. But if replies like yours are any indication, then we might as well all hang it up because there is really no hope for any of you.

  • Donny | March 18, 2012 10:54 PM

    Okay, firstly, sorry for the wall of text in the previous post, it would appear paragraphs do not work on this website, so that must look obnoxious. Also, I thought Jarod said "time to show Soylent Green to these morons" not "time to Soylent Green these morons." In other words, I thought he wanted to try and show some people a great film from the 1970s. Instead, it looks like he just wants to attack and cannibalize people for HAVING DIFFERENT TASTES IN FILM THAN HIM. Brian is also guilty of this overreaction, and also wants to tear gas people FOR LIKING A MOVIE HE DOESN'T LIKE. The argument that this film and its supporters are misanthropic in nature loses its sense of truth when the people making that claim want to attack people over something so trivial. That being said, Soylent Green is a wonderful film, and orders of magnitude better than Project X, but I still like Project X, and don't see why that's a problem (see my previous post).

  • Donny | March 18, 2012 10:48 PM

    Is it not possible to enjoy both Soylent Green (Charlton Heston being of my favorite actors) AND Project X? Is there some law against enjoying both the "cerebral, existential explorations" of Kubrick and Bergman and so on, but also enjoying silly "repugnant simulations of life" from likes of Todd Philips? Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, films like those of Kubrick and Bergman will be remembered forever due to them being "great" on a level that films like Project X can not even conceive of, but why should I not allow myself to enjoy the bacchanalia that is Project X while it is here?

    Also, I find claims that this film is irresponsible IN ANY WAY to be ridiculous. NO animal abuse actually happened, NO neighbors actually got tasered, and so on. IT'S JUST A MOVIE. Ironically, no doubt some people who decry this movie for such things, no doubt have no problem with Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange," but, if they were around in 1971, were probably at the forefront of the idiots trying to censor and ban that. But now because that film has become a respected piece of culture (and rightfully so, I might add), they admire it and are not offened that people enjoy it. Yet they pick a new target, in films like Project X, and similar raunchy comedies. Yeah, sure, the films have infinitely less value on a cultural/artistic merit scale, but that's no relevant to the fact that they are JUST MOVIES nevertheless, and if that's what peope want to pay to see, they should have the right to.

    In all seriousness, the level of flak this movie receives really irks me. For starters, at least the person writing this review had the decency and common sense to realize the movie was not for him. That's fine, but I guess he is some kind of film critic, so he "had" to see it. But for everyone else criticizing it (many of whom HAVE NOT EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE), just don't watch it. And move on. And go watch your Kubricks, or your Kurosawas, or your Fellinis, or whatever. In fact, I'll probably join you. But that's no reason not to watch Project X first. Not every movie has to be a deep piece of culture that is great. Sometimes they can be just a fun diversion. Or wish fulfillment.

  • Brian | March 11, 2012 7:41 PM

    You get off the planet, asshole. There are too many incredibly stupid people here already. You're just one of them.

  • WhY should I CaRe, I respond anyway | March 11, 2012 5:03 AM

    Then get the fuck off the planet.

  • Brian | March 9, 2012 8:46 PM

    You got that right. Soylent Green and tear gas for the entire lot of these fools.

  • cadavra | March 3, 2012 7:12 PMReply

    And the prosecution rests.

  • CB | March 3, 2012 3:57 PMReply

    I hate these tasteless excuses for coming of age comedies. There is no cleverness or understatement any more...just as much crudeness as can be crammed into the film. It doesn't take much talent to put one of these on screen. Great comedies have gone the way of the dinosaur.

  • Brian | March 9, 2012 8:55 PM

    You are correct! Great comedies take wit and timing, not just crudeness and gratuitous behavior. I don't think I've seen a great comedy in I don't know how many years. There are no great comedies made any more and that's a big shame. Good thing I have Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy DVDS in my collection. Their films still make me laugh even though they were made in the 20s and 30s. See, that's called being timeless, while today's so-called comedies have a shelf life of about ten minutes.

  • Potzy | March 3, 2012 12:22 AMReply

    Well, if the illiterate posters that seem to manipulate a keyboard as well as a lobotomized pig are any indication of the targeted demographic, I think I'll pass.

  • Moby | March 2, 2012 10:24 PMReply

    I am furious over this movie. It is irresponsible, inappropriate and only adds to the problem of underage drinking and parent incarceration for parties that occur under zero adult supervision. Don't leave your Holden at home by themselves ever!!!!

  • Miles Prower | March 6, 2012 9:17 AM

    Jack Offo (har har) and Rubinsky, you're part of the problem. Not the solution.

    "I'm 17 if you have not had a party like this or been to a party like this then something is up," - What does this even mean? What sort of argument is that? What is your thesis in the defense of this film?

    "oh yeah girl, be a super-protective mom, u will see what ur sons will do... you have to trust them, give them their space, what i think about life is, this is just a cicle, we born and we die, so try to enjoy your life, don't hurt anothers' life." - First off, it's "you" and "your." If you're going to take the time to respond to another's argument, then you should probably take the time to actually respond thoughtfully or you will look like an ill-educated moron. Second, your argument of "trust them, give them space" follows the logic that teens have where they justify their idiotic behavior.

    "what i think about life is, this is just a cicle, we born and we die, so try to enjoy your life, don't hurt anothers' life." - Good one, Aristotle. So profound. But, I'm confused at the word "cicle" do you mean "icicle"? Life is an icicle? I suppose you're right. Life is cold and slowly melting away . . . or something.

    "i prefer to life 30 years with the greatest time ever than 70 in a boring and daily life..." - I think I can speak for all of the internet when I say that we all hope that you have the greatest time ever and live until you're 20 so we don't have to put up with you when you're 70.

  • Jack Offo | March 5, 2012 7:28 PM

    Do you not have a life ? I'm 17 if you have not had a party like this or been to a party like this then something is up, but the part with the drugs and burning down the street etc I don't agree with but you have to admit they are most probably the same age as me and they know how to party!!!!!

  • Rubinsky | March 3, 2012 12:15 AM

    oh yeah girl, be a super-protective mom, u will see what ur sons will do... you have to trust them, give them their space, what i think about life is, this is just a cicle, we born and we die, so try to enjoy your life, don't hurt anothers' life. Obviously, this movie is kind of crazy, i bet your sons wouldn't burn a neighborhood so don't worry, live ur life and let them enjoy their adolescence cuz after that then start the problems, so chill out, enjoy ur life, i prefer to life 30 years with the greatest time ever than 70 in a boring and daily life...

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