Basic Plot: Thomas, Costa, and J.B. are high schoolers planning on throwing a birthday party for the virtually friendless Thomas while his parents are out of town. Through mass promotion by Costa, the party explodes with guests and eventually goes beyond all control.
One thing that always bothered me was how parties are so outrageously and unrealistically displayed in movies, television, and music videos. With the hundreds of porn-potential guests, sublime vibe all around, and rockin' DJs, you might well put the damn things in space. If you're going to lose credibility, lose it with some style, some grandeur.
And to a certain extent, that's what Project X does. Instead of trying to pull back on the reins, Project X shows us a party so insane, so unbelievably out of control, that you can't help but admire just how far they take it. I'm no stiff. I like ridiculous movies just as much as serious ones, as long as some creativity was put in, and as long as the run time is deserved. I love the hell out of Commando, an Schwarzenegger flick wherein Ah-nold destroys an entire cartel stronghold and about 400 Mexicans with nothing but a machine gun, some claymores, and body paint. With terrible accents and enough cheese to choke Wisconsin, the movie is both terrible and wonderful simultaneously.
And it works for two reasons. One, it's over the top to the point of comedy. And two, it's short. The greatest sin a stupid action movie can commit is to take itself seriously and to stretch the running time. This is why I loathe the Transformers movies, and this is why Project X is at least a tolerable film.
The film spends a decent amount of time leading up to the party, showing a fairly accurate depiction of pre-party jitters. Thomas, the host, is sweating bullets, while Costa, his friend with nothing to lose, invites every living soul he can find. They have to shoo away the suspicious parents, pick up supplies, and nervously take their first shots in the living room, waiting for armageddon to arrive. There is suspense being built here, and it's effective.
Soon, the party is on, and this is when the movie both shines and stumbles. What the movie is best at is showing the actual party. The antics are increasingly wild and the movie could've just shown the whole party without any plot or side-stories and would have worked just as well, or even better. You got people swinging from chandeliers, breaking garden gnomes full of ecstasy, and driving cars into pools. I accepted all of this as an absurd, larger-than-life sort of dream party. When the movie screws the pooch is when it tries to add plot points and drama. There's the hot popular girl who the main characters drool over (for good reason) and Thomas ends up hooking up with her. Because apparently no one drives girls wild than the host of a party. Then again, there are girls who go for people for iconic status and not for, say, looks or personality, and Thomas is a bit of a celebrity at this point. So, we shrug it off and watch him work his magic, except that his friend Kirby (yes....Kirby) walks in on them and storms off. See, Thomas, in a drunken stupor, had hooked up with her as well. He follows her to no avail, and the party carries on.
Dear Project X: who the fuck cares? This is a stupid party movie. Admit what it is and stop trying to add some half-baked soap opera into it. This entire sub-plot is so pointless and underdeveloped it should've been cut completely. And while you're there, take out the equally pointless J.B. character, who is there solely to be "the fat kid," and nothing else.
Many critics, predictably female critics, trashed the character of Costa for being vulgar and misogynistic. Which is understandable since half of what comes out of his mouth is about banging sluts. However, his lines are actually funny, and he talks like many over-confident high school and college males talk. It may be a little overdone, but it's the kind of character you can't really censor because there's usually one at every party. And this is a party movie. Besides, he's at a party surrounded by girls taking off their tops because there's a sign that says to do it, and you're expecting him to respect women? And if you say the film itself is sexist for showing girls do that, well, it's not too farfetched if you've been to any college party.
So is the film misogynistic? Not particularly. The film isn't trying to portray anything other than a ridiculous party, and the male characters are just as drunk and stupid as the females. It's the kind of movie you can't use themes to describe. There isn't any sexism or racism or shakesperanism because there's N-O-T-H-I-N-G to analyze about the film, other than the fact that we Americans love to rage.
I went back and forth trying to decide whether to put this film in the YES or NO category in terms of reccomending it, but I will let it squeeze by because of its direction (the first person camera really does make you feel like you're there) and for taking the party movie farther than it's ever been. And the fact that several students tried to host similar parties in real life gives the film some street cred. As well as a slap on the wrist.
Best Way to Watch: Pregaming with your friends, and then head out to the nightlife when it's over.