Epic, Plus One
3.5 out of 5 Popcorn Buckets
Rated: R Crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive language, reckless behavior and mayhem - all involving teens.
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 28 mins
Director: Nima Nourizadeh
Writers: Matt Drake, Michael Bacall
Cast: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Dax Flame, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Peter Mackenzie
SYNOPSIS: Two high schoolers throw a birthday party for friend Thomas while Thomas' parents are away for the weekend that quickly spirals out of control.
REVIEW: New director Nima Nourizadeh takes a script from Matt Drake (the upcomingThe Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman) and Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) to give us a glimpse of how teenagers truly spend their space time when unsupervised. In Pasadena, Thomas (Thomas Mann, the upcoming Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) has a birthday coming up on Saturday when his mom (Caitlin Dulany, Maniac Cop 3) and dad (Peter Mackenzie, One Hour Photo) are away for the weekend for their wedding anniversary. Thomas' friends Costa (Oliver Cooper, Weekend Dad) and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown, Pretend Time) want to use his birthday as an excuse to plan and execute an epic party that will be a game-changer for their reputations at school and in other social circles. Where Thomas wants a quiet get together with a few friends and his longtime friend who is a girl Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton, Scar), Costas talks him into upping the guest list to fifty. Costas then takes control of the whole party with DJs, a bouncy house, security in yellow wind breakers, blow-up dolls for the pool, plenty of alcohol, and a viral invite to the hottest and coolest teenagers around. All the whole, AV geek Dax (Dax Flame) shoots the entire event from beginning to end on film as per Costas' instruction. As the guests start arriving and the party gets into full swing, the event starts to spiral so far out of control that none of the hosts can wrap their hands around it.
Shot in hand-held first-person documentary style and presented as if the party actually occurred in Pasadena, with title thanks to the people who allowed their footage to be used and apologies to the local police department for the occurrence, Project X even uses most of the actors' first names. For the trained eye, though, the actual known actors make it pretty evident that this film is just another in a long line of hyped mockumentary-styled flicks that thrive on the user's assumptions of reality. Not to say that the film does not deliver on its promise of mayhem and chaos.
Starting off as a mild-mannered tale of a boy's birthday and the party that his friends want to throw for him, Project X is reminiscent of films like Animal House, Porky's, Sixteen Candles, Can't Hardly Wait, and Superbad. Throw in the hand-held style of the film and you have a coming of age story for the second decade of the new millennium. Filled with nudity, loud music, alcohol, drugs, poor decision making, destruction of property, and rebellion against parents and authority figures, Project X is a case study of what every teenager dreams of doing and what every parent fears their teenager will do. With kids surfing on top of a Mercedes Benz, a midget punching guys (and girls) in the crotch, and a flame-throwing maniac lighting up the block in full view of the Pasadena police department and SWAT, this story has enough mayhem and laughs to keep almost everyone entertained. Just be sure that you meet the target demographic of 18 to 25. I was smiling, laughing, and oohing throughout, but the college crowd in the theater enjoyed the film even more.
Thomas Mann, who plays the lead character Thomas, is one of the few young cast members with a resume longer or broader than one or two films, shorts, or videos. As the story revolves around him, it was a good choice to settle on him after several auditions. Oliver Cooper, who plays Costa, channels a Queens olive version of Jonah Hill's Seth from Superbad, especially when he lies next to Thomas and JB and professes his bro love for his friends and laments about the crappy things he has done to them - especially the chubby JB. Kirby Bliss Blanton and Alexis Knapp play the ying and yang - the good girl and bad girl, respectively - directly in Thomas' drug- and alcohol-induced sights. Other highlights are a brief glimpse of the cameraman Dax, and the pint-sized security detail Everett (Brady Hender, Infamous) and Tyler (Nick Nervies, Role Models). The phrase, "Don't taze me, bro!", takes on a whole new meaning.
Project X is a drug- and alcohol-addled, and bare breast-filled teenage boy rite of passage to becoming a man. A perfect film for moviegoers with valid college IDs, this film is funny, vulgar, and over the top. Is Project X for everyone? No. But it is certainly fun enough for the people who go to the movies the most!
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