Project X Preview

For the first main entry in the cycle we wanted to do the film that really planted a seed for the Bring A Friend cycle. When this film came out we were devastated to find that it crept above our threshold for BMT qualification. It didn’t seem possible. Like a terrible nightmare. And yet we had come to accept that we would never watch this film for BMT… until Bring A Friend made Missed Opportunity a valid non-BMT category. That’s right! We’re watching Project XXx: Return of Xander Cage!!!! Attaching nicely to the poorly reviewed (and yet apparently beloved) teen comedy Project X, we are able to integrate the 44% RT near-miss sequel of a major BMT film into the fold (albeit not as an official BMT film). Love you, Vinny D! Let’s go!

Project X (2012) – BMeTric: 14.6

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(Hooooooooly shit. That … is a really impressive number of votes. I wonder how much that translates to actual cash? I only wonder because this movie set some sort of record for being pirated in 2012. This is probably a good example of how the demographics of the internet probably don’t reflect the demographics either critics or movie producers care about. But that is neither here nor there, the internet demographics clearly loved this fucking movie.)

Leonard Maltin – So, is this merely an extreme teenage version of The Hangover, or is it another sign of the end of civilization as we know it? How you feel about Project X will have a lot to do with your age and gender. If I were a hormonally charged 16-year-old boy, I might think it was the greatest movie ever made, a wish-fulfillment comedy featuring lots of good-looking naked girls. As a parent, I have quite another view: it’s a horror movie! …  If I were an adolescent girl this movie would make me want to move to another continent rather than suffer the foul-mouthed, condescending outlook of the “typical” high-school boys depicted here. … In any case, this movie wasn’t intended for me. Come to think of it, I should be grateful for that.

(This was from a small-ish review on IndiWire, and there is no listed stars. On his podcast he’s mentioned it as a non-recommendation at least once though, so suffice to say, he’s not a fan. Don’t worry Leonard, I’m not the target audience as well, but I remember that time 15 years ago when I was, and I’m sure there will be cringing all around for the adolescent nonsense this panders to. I’m excited.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5m4bPQLPZ8

(Not a giant fan of the secret audience reactions, but to be honest this trailer is basically 1000 creative writing nerds’ Hangover knock-off rolled into one. Given the modest budget, it looks really well done. Still hate the genre though, and I’m not the demographic, so I’ll probably find it gross and off-putting as well. Hooray.)

Directors – Nima Nourizadeh – (Known For: American Ultra; BMT: Project X; Notes: Apparently he was primarily a music video director outside of his two main feature films. His brother is a music producer. Of Iranian descent, he is the son of political activist Alireza Nourizadeh)

Writers – Matt Drake (screenplay) – (Known For: Tully; Future BMT: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman; BMT: Project X; Notes: There is very little outside of press for his movies online about him. Makes me wonder if this is a pen name for someone else, like Todd Phillips, the producer. Although Todd Phillips has plenty of writing credits, so that seems unlikely.)

Michael Bacall (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; 21 Jump Street; 22 Jump Street; Manic; Bookies; BMT: Project X; Notes: Plenty of cred, he is also an actor doing a ton of mostly bit parts in films. His story is one of moving from smaller scripts like Manic, to arguably some of the funniest and most successful comedies of the decade. Has Project XX in the works apparently.)

Actors – Thomas Mann – (Known For: Kong: Skull Island; Blood Father; The Stanford Prison Experiment; Beautiful Creatures; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Welcome to Me; Memoria; Future BMT: Barely Lethal; Fun Size; As Cool as I Am; The Preppie Connection; BMT: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; Project X; Notes: Moved to California at 17 to give acting a go. Bold. Seems to be working out well for him.)

Oliver Cooper – (Known For: Office Christmas Party; Future BMT: Runner Runner; The Hangover Part III; Burying the Ex; Mojave; BMT: Project X; Notes: His part in Hangover III is likely due to his role here. He was nominated for an MTV Movie award for best villain … coool)

Jonathan Daniel Brown – (Known For: Kid Cannabis; Bad Milo!; BMT: Project X; Notes: He is garbage and I hope he somehow reads this: you are a garbage internet troll of a person and I wish you no success. Congrats on being terrible.)

Budget/Gross – $12 million / Domestic: $54,731,865 (Worldwide: $102,731,865)

(Obviously an enormous success, but mostly because you can go so cheap with found footage. Given a normal budget of, say, $30 million, the return would be middling for a comedy.)

#15 for the Comedy – High School genre

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(Huh. I think the thing that is most interesting is that there are so few movies in this genre in the 90s. And it makes me wonder if it reflects periods of studio gluttony. A number of major movie studios collapsed in the 90s, and the economy collapsed in 2008, and without the troves of free wheeling cash, perhaps movies directed towards high school nostalgia just don’t get onto the docket.)

#32 for the Comedy – R-Rated Youth genre

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(Huge in the 80s, and over 15 years the genre became a juggernaut in the 2000s. This is where I wonder if trusting Box Office Mojo is exactly wise. Neighbors gets on the list (correctly), but then … where is Neighbors 2? We are relying on some random Amazon employee remembering this shit or what?)

#8 for the Found Footage genre

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(Blair Witch is still number one?! And still going strong. A garbage genre, but at the same time … it is interesting that it is a genre that is kind of just a style. You can have a comedy, horror, sci fi, etc. It starts getting to be a stretch, but something like Chronicle is an example of how interesting the “genre” can get.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 28% (37/133): Unoriginal, unfunny, and all-around unattractive, Project X mines the depths of the teen movie and found-footage genres for 87 minutes of predictably mean-spirited debauchery.

(Sounds about right. I do not like found footage in general. It usually manages to be both lazy (in that you don’t have to actually think about how a scene works since it is supposed to kind of look like shit), and illogical (by not bothering to explain why people leave a camera rolling uninterrupted for 90 minutes straight). I just think it is hard to get it to work well, and this seems to lie a bit on the Gallows side of things.)

Poster – Sklogject X (B+)

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(This is actually a very good poster. Artistic, interesting framing, tells a little story of what you’re in for with the film. Wish the color scheme was a little less bland, but goes with the found footage aspect. The font is trash.)

Tagline(s) – Witness it. (D)

(I think they probably made this tagline for social media purposes. Given the success and popularity of the film I would bet that this had a really good social media presence and #WitnessIt is a nice concise hashtag to spread the word. As a tagline though it is not good.)

Keyword(s) – party; Top Ten by BMeTric: 96.1 Epic Movie (2007); 95.3 Disaster Movie (2008); 92.1 Jack and Jill (I) (2011); 91.2 Son of the Mask (2005); 88.4 House of the Dead (2003); 88.0 Vampires Suck (2010); 87.1 Crossroads (I) (2002); 86.9 The Room (2003); 84.2 Movie 43 (2013); 84.1 Piranha 3DD (2012);

(Gross. We need to watch Crossroads (again … for like the sixth time), just to really delve into the background of how that film was made once and for all).)

Notes – The most pirated movie in 2012 (approx. 8,720,000 downloads). (Ha)

Some of the footage was shot by the cast with cell phones, Flip, iPhone and Blackberry phones that were handed out by the crew. Over 10 hours of footage was recorded mostly due to the cast continuously recording.

Although the party seems to have more than a thousand people attending, only around 200 extras were used during filming.

Filmed on a set as opposed to a real neighborhood in order to minimize disruption to the locals. This proved to be a wise move as the set was effectively trashed during production. Nevertheless, nearby locals complained to Burbank police about the noise.

Loosely based on the house party of Corey Worthington (Delaney) in Australia. The then-teenager posted the address of his house party on MySpace, attracting around 500 people and caused over $20,000 in property damage. His party attracted journalists and was widely disliked by the public, having been assaulted by a group of teenagers after the events. (Wait … who was assaulted? Even looking through the information online it doesn’t seem like anyone was. Corey Worthington is a weird-ass D-List celebrity though now in Australia).

When the camera catches the young lady urinating, she gestures for it to shoo away. According to a popular Internet rumor, the lady was urinating in a corner due to a lack of bathrooms on the set, and was irritated by this violation of her privacy. Only by paying her an extra amount of money were the editors allowed to use the footage in the film. However, her expression is ambiguous, and she almost appears to be smiling or laughing while gesturing the camera away from her body function.

All the teenagers including the extras, in the party were at the age of 18 or older.

To create a believable bond between them, lead actors Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown were sent to Disneyland and for a weekend away in Big Bear City in California. (… Cool)

Outgrossed its production budget by $9 million on its first weekend of release.

Thomas Mann is one of the few members of the cast to have prior acting experience. He had to audition seven times before landing the role.

Most of the cast are all first-timers, recruited via an open casting call.

Filmed over a period of five weeks.

Project X was a tentative title until it became official.

Writer Michael Bacall worked on the script in the evenings as during the day he was working on the screenplays to 21 Jump Street (2012) and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010). (Both much more critically successful … I wonder how much he actually worked on this “script”)

When Miles Teller arrives to the party he is addressed by his real name (Whaaaaaaaaa Miles Teller is in this?)

Director Nima Nourizadeh’s background in commercials landed him the job as helmer. He initially moved from London to Los Angeles for what he thought would be a two-week stint on refining the screenplay. He ended up staying for two years.

The High School scenes were filmed at Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, CA.

Into the Storm Preview

This week we move onto our Action film in the cycle and were really fortunate to have a recent film come out that took place in one of our remaining states. That would be Into the Storm, a found footage (ugh) disaster film set in the town of Silverton, Oklahoma. We had always planned on watching it and I was delighted to find that it worked so well for mapl.de.map. Rest assured, we’re almost there! Let’s go!

Into The Storm (2014) – BMeTric: 34.3 (November 18, 2016)

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(Ah, classic. Look at that VOD release bump. I think maybe a good thing to look at in the future is the size of the VOD bump relative to theatrical and see how consistent that is. I’ve seen movies with bumps around four times the original theatrical run. This looks to be three times the original. Perhaps it is related to genre? Commentary and plots generated on November 18, 2016)

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars – Given our national interest in all things weather-related, “Into the Storm” feels like an inevitability, almost a cinematic obligation to the country’s latest obsession, and it’s about as creatively inspired as that description makes it out to be.

(So you’re basically saying it’s boring? Are you though? I can’t tell. If you read the rest of the review it goes on to say how poor the character development was and how they wanted some deep characters. I just hate this bullshit. Reviewers pick and choose when to care about character development and plots when they want to hate a movie or not. So the non-characters of Jurassic World (3 stars) are OK, but we couldn’t possibly watch a tornado rip a town apart without feeling a deep connection to the characters involved? Sorry, just breaking in the new saddle on my high horse.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBH25XxM-7g

(I don’t think I have to see the rest of the film. I believe I just watched the entire thing. I will admit, although I didn’t like the tone of the RogerEbert.com review, they may be on to something. The characters and events look very poorly thought out in this one. Almost as if I’m only supposed to be interested in watching a giant fucking tornado… wait.)

Director(s) – Steven Quale – (Known For: Final Destination 5; Aliens of the Deep; The Hundred-Foot Journey. BMT: Into The Storm. Notes: He did Final Destination 5 (the finalest of all the destinations)! I heard that one was supposed to actually be pretty good… now I’m intrigued.)

Writer(s) – John Swetnam – (Known For: The Hundred-Foot Journey. Step Up: All In. BMT: Evidence; Into The Storm. Notes: Currently directing/writing an upcoming found footage dance film called Breaking Through. A found footage dance film?! That’s amazing. I CANNOT WAIT).)

Actors – Richard Armitage – (Known For: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Captain America: The First Avenger; No End in Sight; Last Days in Vietnam. BMT: Into The Storm. Notes: Only bad film on the resume, though I’ve never heard of him. Does audiobooks and won the 2014 Best Audiobook of the Year from Audible for Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel.)

also stars Sarah Wayne Callies and Matt Walsh

Budget/Gross: $50 million / $47,602,194 ($160,602,194 Worldwide)

(Despite doing reasonably well at the box office it was still labeled a flop. Actually had the 188th worst opening ever for a super saturated (3000+ theaters) release. Right above previous BMT film This Means War.)

#26 for the Disaster genre

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(Pretty rough, right around the cinematic classic Volcano starring Tommy Lee Jones. This is a rarity: a terrible movie coming out at the peak of a genre’s popularity and financial prowess. Since then the disaster genre has collapsed. I think this might follow the zombie-spaceship-wasteland paradigm. Where disaster films make way for alien attack makes way for etc. etc. But hard to prove. That big peak maybe came from Apollo 13 and/or Twister … or maybe just Titanic doing crazy business in 1997. Sleep well disaster genre.)

#11 for the Found Footage genre

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(Right around BMT Classic The Devil Inside. The found footage genre page is clearly incomplete (and in no way does this make me trust boxofficemojo as a source …) because Blair Witch 2 is missing (unless that wasn’t found footage). The little bump down in gross I think was the ushering in of the Blumhouse style of production: low budget, high volume, large profits. By all accounts the production style is working and is being looked at as a possible way forward for independent movie development. I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing, it just means a bunch of barely movies get released to theaters. Good for us I guess … I guess.)

Rotten Tomatoes: 21% (30/140), Critics Consensus: Clumsily scripted and populated with forgettable characters, Into the Storm has little to offer beyond its admittedly thrilling special effects.

(Gah! Why am I going to this movie? Am I looking to engage with the characters as they run screaming from a tornado? “But you need to identify with them so you care about them.” They are still in danger from a giant fucking tornado that apparently looks awesome, right? That being said, I do not doubt that this script is clumsier than Paul Blart on a bender (relevant!).)

Poster – Into the Sklog (D)

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(I guess it’s got the color scheme going for it… at least consistent. But it’s a bit cheap looking and the font is shit.)

Tagline(s) – Prepare to go (F)

(Welp, that’s a shame. I’m about done defending this one. I do understand that it is meant to be paired with the title (prepare to go… into the storm) but that is still awful. Just awful.)

Keyword(s) – storm; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.5 The Avengers (1998); 72.2 I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998); 68.5 Psycho (1998); 64.3 Gulliver’s Travels (2010); 63.6 Swept Away (2002); 57.7 Virus (1999); 57.3 Darkness Falls (2003); 57.0 Dr. T & the Women (2000); 56.9 Godzilla (I) (1998); 53.0 An American Haunting (2005);

(Hell yeah The Avengers has a horrible CGI storm. This list is quite nice. Looks like a ton of garbage movies like to use weather in their plotlines. And for that I say thank you!)

Notes – In a clear homage to Twister (1996) , a statue of a cow is blown off a building and across the screen in one scene.