By: Addison Wylie
It’s already March and currently the counter for found footage films released in 2012 sits at three. Out of the three, only one of those has gotten a passing grade. The other two are devoid of any creativity and serve as complete wastes of time. Being that I gushed about how fantastic Chronicle was just a mere couple of weeks ago, I’ll let you connect the dots.
Not to derail the review but Chronicle managed to stay true to how a found footage film should be handled but also wasn’t afraid to think outside the box regarding new ways to story tell.
Audiences are now presented with the empty headed Project X. I wouldn’t compare the two movies because other than living in the same genre with one another, they’re both radically different films. But, while watching Project X and watching the umpteenth montage of teens dancing and drinking while the loud soundtrack pumped underneath the insanity, I couldn’t help but wonder if this film could’ve been a contender in the right hands. Could the guys behind Chronicle breathe something resembling human emotion into the flashy scenes? Could Director Matt Reeves and Producer JJ Abrams of Cloverfield fame bring an element of fear in this film and give audiences a reason to care about the lead character?
Sadly, even these creative minds would look at the script for this, read it in less than five minutes, and give Screenwriters Matt Drake and Michael Bacall a look that says, “are you kidding me, fellas?”
When the movie begins, we’re introduced to Costa, played by Oliver Cooper. With the introductory assault of expletives and the exaggerated sexual excitement, we can only assume that Costa will be our source of comic relief. We all slink in our seats.
We’re then introduced to Thomas, played by Thomas Mann. Judging by his mannerisms around Costa, his shy approach to situations including the school bully leaning up against his locker, and his tired and frail presence, we now have our lead who will undoubtably learn from the experience that will unfold and become a stronger, more realized frail guy by the end of the movie. Second clichéd character: check!
Then, we have JB, played by Jonathan Daniel Brown. Thomas’ friend who’s a little bigger than everyone else, a little geekier, and emulates Rick Moranis from Ghostbusters whenever the camera is left on him for more than five seconds. And, this completes the teen movie underdog trifecta.
This trifecta is one we’ve seen before and it’s been done better in just about every other movie. Not just that, but this has been done better in bad movies with flat actors filling out these parts. It doesn’t feel right to bag on these three because for two of them, this is their first role in a major motion picture. For Mann, we caught him in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It was a small role but he did show potential.
That said though, because these roles have been lazily written without any soul and literally lifting moments and quirks from other and smarter movies like Superbad, this potential talent is unfortunately caught in the crosshairs.
What’s even more saddening and disappointing than bagging on young, aspiring actors is finding out the creative team behind Scott Pilgrim vs. The World wrote THIS. Perhaps Matt Drake and Michael Bacall were completely drained from the frenetic graphic novel adaptation and were simply burnt out. Still, that’s no excuse.
Cliché’s run rampid, as you can see from reading the character descriptions, but even essential things like a plot is missing. Project X is ultimately about Thomas’ birthday and how Costa wants to make it into a big smash that will be remembered forever and will guarantee him and his buddies lots of naked girls begging for sex. As far as a plot goes, there it is. Soak it all in because that feeble objective is going to try and carry the weight of this film.
However, there has to be a sense of urgency, right? While the party progresses, more and more people attend. With more and more people attending, more things get destroyed. The party builds and builds and becomes a riot. It’s a party that’s so out of hand, that even cops and news crews are called in by angry neighbours.
This is where we’re supposed to feel for Thomas and his buddies. However, another problem occurs. When the party starts out small, Thomas has the option to tone the aggressiveness down. However, he doesn’t because all the cute girls are winking at him and all the guys are giving him high fives. Thus, he changes his mind. Thomas meets this crossroad many times and constantly flip flops between being a party pooper and turning the other cheek. When the party gets out of control, property is being destroyed and Thomas is turning white as a ghost, we can’t help but feel nothing for him because he’s flip-flopped far too much. We can’t feel sympathetic for Thomas nor for any of his friends.
I can’t help but feel that first time Director Nima Nourizadeh is in over his head. He can never get a good grip on this bad script and he can never polish this turd. When he’s setting up the characters and the story, the movie resembles something recognizable. It’s not good but it’s how a found footage film movie should be setting everything up. However, when the party starts, the film turns into a feature length music video. A music video where any evidence of a band has been cut and all that’s left is b-roll of girls dancing and random nonsense. This would be passable if the film had a brain and did this once but instead the film is absent of any logic and we get montage after montage after montage and with each montage, the film gets more sexual.
I swear I’m wrapping this up soon but I have to address the weird sexual nature of Project X. We’ve grown used to having high school kids with raging hormones inhabit these kinds of teen comedies. However, there’s a line that’s crossed. When the girls at this HIGH SCHOOL party start taking off their tops and begin swimming and dancing topless, things start to get uncomfortable. When there’s an extended scene of Thomas hooking up with the popular girl from his HIGH SCHOOL and we see both of them half naked and heavily making out, thing’s get uncomfortable. Being that the film is taken from a first person perspective, when we see topless HIGH SCHOOL girls biting their lips at the camera or having the camera shoved up their skirts, the film is now completely and utterly tasteless. Congratulations, movie!
Y’know, after turning this review into a somewhat rant, I’ve had it. I don’t care if this film was a first time for the director, the stars, the crew members, whoever. Everyone making this film should’ve known better. They should’ve looked at each other and walked away from this project. It’s not funny or clever. It doesn’t use the found footage angle to its fullest. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is only a found footage film because the minds had to mask how unoriginal everything is. The camera work is shaky and whoever had the idea of blowing up FlipHD footage and 240p video and putting it on a big screen should have their job title re-evaluated. This is an obnoxious, ugly, and creepy mess.
So, I didn’t like Project X. Please, avoid at all costs.