Three high school losers set out to throw an epic birthday bash in hopes of upping their social status. As word spreads, the party begins to spiral out of control. Can they keep the police at bay, the damage under control, and still get the girl before it’s too late? Find out in… Project X.
How?! When Thomas’ parents are heading out of town during his birthday his best friend Costa plans to throw a huge rager to impress the girls that never notice them (documenting it along the way using an A/V club nerd). At school Costa attempts to spread the word of the party far and wide with seemingly little success. Following a series of misadventures getting weed and quieting the neighbors, Thomas, Costa, and their third friend JD are thrilled to find the party is more than just popular, they are already legends. Hundreds and hundreds of people show, alcohol is flowing, hard drugs are aplenty and the party spins out of control. Meanwhile Thomas is trying to balance getting with the girl he’s in love with and potentially getting with the hottest girl in town. When the neighborhood descends into chaos, riot police come in, and his house is burnt to the ground our “hero” learns a valuable lesson: even if you break a million laws and do immeasurable damage to your family and life, it’s much more important that you are cool and got really drunk that one time. Oh yeah, and he still gets the girl somehow. The End.
Why?! The party is planned by Costa with the express purpose of increasing their social cache. He wants to be known, plain and simple, and a giant rager is how he can accomplish this. In a way he totally exploits Thomas, who really just wants to get with the girl he’s in love with, Kirby. Costa hears that Thomas’ parents are going to be out of town and jumps on the opportunity to use the empty house for his own purposes. In a weird twist he literally gets no comeuppance. He expresses some remorse, but Thomas kind of waves it off. Not great lessons in Project X.
What?! Prominent role for Thomas’ dad’s Mercedes which “cannot be touched.” Which of course inevitably means that it is destroyed during the party. Also, in terms of plot devices, there is a pretty heavy Chekhov’s Gun set up where our characters steal a gnome from a maniac and then seem to assume that they will never hear from him again… he obviously shows up in the third act to burn down the house.
Who?! Shout out to Miles Teller who plays… Miles Teller in the film. Would be weird if it weren’t for the fact that most people in the film played characters that shared at least a first name with them. Jimmy Kimmel also makes a cameo at the end making a joke in an opening monologue for his late night show.
Where?! Prominently set in North Pasadena, California. Said over and over and shown in writing on the high school they go to. C+.
When?! Exact Date Alert! We get featured on screen in text that the party takes place on May 14th, 2011. This is as close as we’ve come to intertitle confirmation of an exact date. Gotta give that a B+.
As for our Bring a Friend film, xXx: Return of Xander Cage I found myself fairly entertained while also recognizing that the film is a symptom of where cinema is heading for better or for worse (big ensemble flicks with easy to digest plotlines and foreign actors catering to the international audience). It felt very much like a better version of Mechanic: Ressurection, which isn’t saying a whole lot since that movie was one of the worst we’ve watched for BMT. In fact the more Patrick and I discussed the film the more I didn’t like it. But at the moment I think it’s merely an incredibly silly, predictable popcorn movie that is slightly better than I expected (as I expected a pile of trash). Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Remember being young and you thought writing about the rad fake party with the rad fake girls in english class made sense? Remember later realizing you knew nothing about parties, or girls, and honestly the third act was always a mess? Just me? Anyways, now imagine if a hero came along and said “no, I shall live without shame! We shall show the world what a party imagined by a 14-year-old boy would look like!” This is Project X! Let’s Go!
The Good (Sequel, Prequel, Remake) – I can appreciate that this is probably one of the better found footage films we’ve watched for BMT. It has a Logical explanation of why they are carrying a camera around like idiots for an entire party; A proper three-act structure often lacking in the meandering found footage genre; And, in some ways, an attempt to show at least some of the unflattering bits of what is otherwise a rather rosy picture of a youth ruining his life right in front you your eyes. Let’s do the brutal Sequel! They helpfully mentioned that our main character was heroically convicted of multiple crimes, although it would seem (unless multiple counts are involved) that all are misdemeanors and involve at most a year in county jail. The sequel follow him descending into obscurity as he tries to stay out of trouble in his senior year in high school and his slow realization that for one night of fame … he sacrificed a decade of his life and possibly his future. The movie is a slice of life drama (also found footage) as he struggles to stay connected to Kirby, who is off to USC in the fall. Project X: Crime and Punishment. “Wow, I mean, I didn’t like the first one, but this just feels mean spirited” says Leonard Maltin.
The Bad (Sklognalogy) – I didn’t enjoy this film. It is gross and devoid of worth, but I am not the intended audience. The acting is pretty brutal, but that is expected, the third act is a mess, but that’s expected, and shoehorning a love interest plot kind of backfires because they do almost nothing to make us care about either of the people involved. Sklognalogy is I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, in that is is just … gross and devoid of worth as I said. Although this is streets ahead of that piece of literal garbage. This movie is understandably loved by the demographic it focuses on like a heat-seeking missile, and I’ll say it every time: I am not the audience. If you are, say, a woman, or a man over the age of 24, you’ll probably just watch it in disgust. That’s my opinion anyways.
The BMT (Legacy / StreetCreditReport.com) – I think if I take anything from this movie it is this is a decent example of a good found footage film, but bad film, like The Gallows in a way. Also watching this and (re-watching) xXx in the same week was kind of interesting. I called both movies “misogynistic”, but that isn’t totally precise. Ultimately I settled on the definition: both films would fail basically all tests used to analyze gender equality in Hollywood. FilmSchoolRejects named it to its worst list of the year, and PopMatters put it at number 2 pointing out that there were at least three copycat parties in California after the movie was released! Pretty solid cred, including the previously discussed revulsion from Roger Ebert and Leonard Maltin. It had to be done.
Finally, a brief recap of my adventures with xXx over the week. I re-watched the first two, and yeah, basically the first one is actually not too bad outside of the fact that the tech is straight out of GI Joe and the boat at the end looks absolutely ridiculous. It is believable that Vin Diesel’s character would be able to infiltrate the hilariously one-note anarchist bad guys’ crew though. The second one is amazingly ridiculous, and obviously has the best character of the whole franchise: the Presidential Bullet Train. The third is somewhere in between. It isn’t as good as the first, but it is better than the second. But it is silly, with just explosions on stupid sets, and wholly predictable. That is its biggest sin, it can’t surprise and thus can’t really be that fun because everything feels inevitable. It doesn’t make me any more inclined to watch films above 40% on Rotten Tomatoes … as a matter of fact it makes me much less inclined to watch films with reviews above 30% these days to be honest. So, it had the opposite effect. Congrats xXx: Return of Xander Cage!