“Project X” claimed second-place at the box office over the weekend, grossing $20.7 million.
Produced by Todd Phillips, the director of “The Hangover,” “Project X” stars Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper), and J.B. (Jonathon Daniel Brown) as three high school students trying to change their relatively unpopular status by throwing a birthday party for Thomas after his parents go out of town.
In preparation, the group buys alcohol and marijuana from T-Rick (Rick Shapiro), a crazy ex-militant living in a run-down house.
Unbeknownst to Thomas, Costa has slightly bigger plans for the party, and the declared 50-person maximum soon becomes 1,500 students when Thomas uses his seemingly God-given marketing skills to promote the party.
Cars line the suburban neighborhood streets, and students pile in for what becomes a party far beyond Thomas’ expectations.
The group must fend off complaining neighbors, the police, and a visit from T-Rick, from whom the group stole a gnome.
Thomas is forced to choose between the party and its consequences, which early on, are quite literally disastrous.
Despite its obvious over-the-top plot line, “Project X” has a very real feel to it, aided by its documentary shooting style.
Director Nima Nourizadeh implemented a creative marketing method by creating a nationwide casting call, which allowed anybody over 18 years old to audition for the film’s leading roles. When Mann, Cooper, and Brown were chosen, Nourizadeh sent them to Disneyland together, and housed them in a cabin in Big Bear City for a weekend.
Not only did the strategy keep the production budget fairly low ($12 million), but it also provided genuine relationships when the cameras started rolling. The dialogue is seamless and conversational, and despite the countless extras, Nourizadeh found the time to make the lead characters unforgettable, and potentially overnight stars.
The film defies the typical Hollywood tactics that viewers have come to know, and will likely find many copycats to come. Nourizadeh wisely implements various props throughout the movie, the most apparent being the lawn gnome, which seems to take on a role of its own. No doubt the prop will soon be seen on store shelves.
The rating disclaimer, which reads, “crude and sexual content, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem” is an accurate glimpse of the film, and will certainly steer some viewers in another direction. To those, (who I applaud for such righteousness), the film will bring back no memories of youthful mischief, and its shallow, immature nature will serve only to hijack precious minutes of life.
To the rest of you: this could be the best 88-minute party you have ever taken part in.
On which side I stand, I plead the fifth.