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Project X (2012)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/19/2012

All Ratings out of




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/19/2012

In my recent review for Chronicle, I touched on the evolution of the found-footage movie and how it was starting to cross genres. In the beginning, these films dwelled mainly in the horror genre (something which continues to this day with the Paranormal Activity series.) Chronicle took the approach into the superhero/action realm. Ostensibly, the found-footage technique could be applied to anything which depicts people in an activity, so why not a comedy? Thus, we have Project X, a movie which wants to meld found-footage with the gross-out comedy.

Project X focuses on three high-school friends; Thomas (Thomas Mann), Costa (Oliver Cooper), and JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown). The trio aren't very popular in their school and most people have no idea who they are. Costa has a plan to change all of that, as two events coincide. It's Thomas' birthday, as well as his parent's anniversary, so they are going out of town for the weekend, leaving Thomas to man the house. Costa convinces Thomas to throw a small party at his house. He believes that if the right people show up, it will put them on the social map. While Thomas agrees to a small crowd, Costa advertises the party in several places. Costa hires A/V club member Dax (Dax Flame) to document the festivities. As the night goes on, more and more people arrive at the house, and Thomas' small party begins to grow out of control. Thomas is concerned about this, but he's willing to ignore it, as Alexis (Alexis Knapp), his dream girl, has come to the blowout. However, the party continues to grow until it's something which no one can control.

Project X may as well start working with Megatron, as it is a Decepticon. The found-footage approach is meant to make us think that this is movie is something new and different, but it isn't, as it contains all of the familiar trappings of the high-school party genre. What's this? Thomas has been friends with Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton) since childhood and because of this, he doesn't realize that she's hot? We've never seen that in a movie? What's this? Costa is a loud-mouth blow-hard who thinks that he's smooth with the ladies? What's this? JB is a fat guy with curly hair who overdresses for the party? What, was Jonah Hill's character from Superbad not available? You don’t expect a movie like this, especially one which wants us to suspend our disbelief and accept that what we are watching “really happened”, to have much of a script, much less be overwritten. But, writers Matt Drake and Michael Bacall have hit every cliche possible which very few exceptions. (A particularly destructive character who arrives late to the party was somewhat of a surprise.)

The movie also gets tripped up by its characters. Thomas is a sad-sack type who is viewed by most (even his parents) as a loser, so we are supposed to feel for him. And yet, it’s hard to do this when he allows himself to be pushed around by Costa. Speaking of which, Costa may be one of the most annoying fictional characters of all time. Why must these movies always have the obnoxious friend? Costa is incredibly grating and the audience shouldn’t hope that something awful happens to one of the main characters. Come to think of it, there isn’t a single likable character in this entire movie. The main characters all have their flaws and the party-goers grow more and more irritating as the night goes on.

As an adult and a parent, I was also bothered by the message of Project X. I realize that this is a fictional film and I’m typically not concerned with things like this, but Project X seems especially misguided. The boys’ goal is to gain notoriety through the party and (I’m not giving anything away here) it works. But, at the cost of thousands of dollars of property damage, some severe injuries, animal abuse, and what appeared to be one death. There are a lot of...let’s say impressionable young people out there, and I would hate to think that anyone would take this movie to heart, despite the warnings on the Blu-ray Disc box and at the opening of the film itself.

Applying a (sort of) new filmmaking style to an old sub-genre is a great idea, but one must do some work on the script as well. Project X fails as a comedy, as I only laughed a few times. (I have to admit that the introduction of the security guards was funny.) The movie works so hard to be shocking and controversial that it completely forgets to be humorous and clever. The participation of The Hangover director Todd Philips in the film as a producer dominates the promotion of the movie. Sure, he’s made some gross-out movies, but they also contain an element of subversive revelry. Nothing like that is found here. This entire party is a pooper.

Project X looked like it took place in the house from Disturbia on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer that runs at an average of 25 Mbps. Being a “found-footage” movie, the video quality varies a lot here, and the HD transfer has enhanced both the positive and negative aspects. The daytime scenes look very good, as the image is sharp and clear, showing little grain and no overt defects. The nighttime scenes, however, often come across as too dark, but, again, this is simply a reflection of the filmmaking style. Colors look good and the level of detail is fine in the less dark scenes. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The irritating and seemingly non-stop hip-hop music in the film provides a great deal of subwoofer effects. The surround sound effects really shine in the party scenes and some segments work to make up feel that we are in the middle of the action. The same goes for the stereo effects, which are nicely detailed.

The Project X Blu-ray Disc contains three extra features. "Project X: Declassified" (5 minutes) is a somewhat brief behind-the-scenes featurette which examines some of the major stunts in the film. We get on-set footage as well as comments from the actors and filmmakers who discuss the issues of doing stunts with hundreds of extras around. "Project X: Pasadena Three" (6 minutes) looks at the casting of the three main characters, including audition tapes. "Project Xpensive: Tallying up the Damage" (3 minutes) could have actually been a really interesting extra, as I would like to get an estimate of how much damage was done, but it presents the information in a cartoonish way, ignoring some of the bigger incidents and highlighting many minor ones.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long