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‘Project X’ a party for some ages

Article Published: Mar. 7, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 7, 2012
‘Project X’ a party for some ages

From left, Oliver Cooper, Thomas Mann and Jonathan Daniel Brown star in 'Project X.'

When I think “Project X,” I think of the 1987 film starring Matthew Broderick and a bunch of chimpanzees running flight simulations.

It also stars a young Helen Hunt and a chimp called Bluebeard.

I was fascinated by this movie as a child, and while it’s certainly doesn’t define a generation, it made for fun viewing.

2012’s “Project X,” decidedly short on both Broderick and chimps, is an entirely different movie that actually attempts to define a generation. It doesn’t succeed, but, like Bluebeard and friends, it makes for fun viewing.

Thomas Mann (“It’s Kind of a Funny Story”) stars as Thomas, an average high-schooler who’s just not too popular. But for his 18th birthday, best pals Costa (newcomer Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (newcomer Jonathan Daniel Brown) have a surprise in store – a massive, game-changing birthday throw-down.

By “game-changing,” the abrasively loudmouthed Costa means to bring popularity to his otherwise ignored trio of friends and, in the process, lose their virginity.

With the help of creepy AV-clubber Dax (newcomer Dax Flame) and his camera, the group sets out to film its debauched adventure.

It first involves director Nima Nourizadeh (in his first full-length feature film) establishing some unbelievable groundwork to make the concept work. First, Thomas’s parents agree to leave him home alone for the weekend to celebrate, with his father (Peter Mackenzie, “One Hour Photo”) not anticipating any trouble, since he believes Thomas is a loser and even says as much.

Second, we meet Thomas’s beautiful and charming – but strictly platonic – pal Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton, “Ball Don’t Lie”), who may or may not have eyes for him anyhow.

Third, while scoring some pot from Costa’s dealer, a tripped-out, heavily armed Vietnam vet called T-Rick (Rick Shapiro, HBO’s “Lucky Louie”), Costa foolishly steals one of the troubled toker’s most cherished belongings. Will that come into play later? You bet.

Now that Nourizadeh has laid the establishment for Thomas’s rite of passage, potential love interest and some conflict, the party can begin. That’s where “Project X” takes off, using Dax’s point of view and everyone else’s camera phones to present what’s eventually called “the most epic party of all time.”

See, Costa has used his considerable influence in social media to draw practically everyone from high school and well beyond to Thomas’s Pasadena, Calif., home. Beer is swilled, drugs are partaken, music is thumped, bras are removed and party pandemonium ensues.

The good times don’t just roll; they stampede like a rabid ox-drawn, nitrous-powered monster truck (not quite literally, but close), catching the eye of the media, the ire of neighbors and the attention of local law enforcement.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and a high-schooler’s dream (especially if cleanup isn’t involved). Fortunately, for those watching “Project X,” it isn’t.

Nourizadeh tries to make this a teenage rite of passage film, but even though we spend the entire film with these three protagonists, we never quite get to know them. When its conclusion rolls around, we’re left to assume they’ve somehow changed for the better.
“Project X” works best as strictly a party film, and the handheld footage paints a convincing picture of this über-shindig run amok. Expect substance abuse, just not substance.

“Project X,” rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem, all involving teens, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit

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