Friday, September 21, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Project X (2012) **

R, 88 min.
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writers: Michael Bacall, Matt Drake
Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Brady Hender, Nick Nervies, Alexis Knapp, Miles Teller

“Project X” gets a lot of things right in its attempt to tell a—albeit—slightly unbelievable tale of a party gone supernova. What it doesn’t ever quite get is any sort of dramatic—or rather comedic—direction going. For a long time I sat witnessing this massive party wondering when it was gonna get crazy funny. It got crazy, to be sure. Then it occurred to me that maybe the filmmakers weren’t making a comedy. Maybe they were trying to make some sort of grand statement about the world we live in and our future’s generation in it. Then I realized once again that this was just movie about a birthday party blown horribly out of proportion. By the end, considering the sentimental and cliché conclusion, I was pretty sure comedy was intended, just never achieved.

In many ways, this movie is fascinating in its portrayal of the evolution of a high school party at a middle class suburban house when the parents are away for the weekend. The way the party escalates is very natural and it seems like a party that would’ve been a hell of a lot of fun to attend. But, there is good reason why they haven’t yet started televising parties as they happen. They aren’t exactly spectator sport.

There are no real illusions that this party is supposed to be reality. It is mostly shot with handheld cameras by people participating in the party, but there are plenty of movie conventions that assure us this is scripted material. There are romantic developments and the uneasiness of the kid whose house has been doomed to this party’s fate. The dialogue does not smack so much of reality as it does the immaturity of the characters involved. But, where are the funny lines. There is nothing quotable about this movie. Great party things happen, but there is no funny dialogue. The characters seem to find each other amusing, but there is nothing iconic to be found in this movie. Perhaps for “Project XI”—or should it be “Project Dos Equis”—they could hire a good comedian to provide some punch up work.

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