"Project X" Is a Far-Less-Superior Remake of "Superbad"

By Sean Burns
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted Feb. 29, 2012

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Shouldn’t this “found-footage” movie fad be over already?

I totally get that this was a charming gimmick back in the days of The Blair Witch Project, but considering the speed at which Internet memes expire, one suspects that we as a culture would already have gotten past the whole “fake reality” of following your characters with a camcorder, plus the ensuing half-assed attempt by marketers to persuade gullible audiences that any of this nonsense actually happened.

Maybe I’m just hung up on wondering why people would keep filming whenever such crazy shit is happening. Or could it be that it’s just much easier to shoot a movie on low-end equipment with available lighting, and the sorry-ass shaky camera aesthetic appeals to lazy filmmakers who don’t like to bother planning out their shots?

In any case, after a now routine campaign of “secrecy,” we finally have a glimpse at Project X , which disappointingly enough does not turn out to be a remake of that 1980’s cable staple in which Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt rescue cute monkeys who know sign language. Instead, it’s the Cloverfield of teenage sex comedies, doubling down on the hoariest, out-of-control party cliches and passing them off as something new thanks to the faux- documentary structure and an overdose of amateur Flipcam footage.

It’s gawky Thomas Kud’s 17th birthday, and rather conveniently his parents are headed out of town, leaving him alone for the weekend in their sprawling Pasadena McMansion. Played by Thomas Mann, he’s an un-endearingly awkward young fellow who seems to be missing a few crucial personality traits. Thomas is always trailed by his pervert sidekicks, Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown.) The latter is too vaguely defined to make much of an impression, while the former stakes an early claim as one of this year’s most insufferable movie characters.

Wearing an argyle sweater-vest over a T-shirt, the motor-mouthed Costa spends the movie frantically spewing mountains of deathlessly labored, crass descriptions of anatomical functions, often attempting to put a spin on key cuss words by dragging out certain syllables in sing-songy tones. The instigator behind his meek friend’s party, Costa is preoccupied with the rather sad notion that throwing a crazy rager might elevate their social status to a point where these pathetic kids could actually get laid.

Does any of this sound familiar yet? We’ve got one crazy, booze-fueled, sex-seeking night spent with a mousy kid and his short blustery sidekick, along with a mystical geek rounding out the trio? Project X shamelessly rips so many pages from the script of Superbad that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have grounds for a lawsuit. (At the very least, Oliver Cooper should consider sending Jonah Hill a check, along with a heartfelt letter of apology.)

As tends to happen when parents are out of town, the guestlist for this particular bash quickly blossoms out of control. In the movie’s most baffling diversion, Rabbit Hole and Footloose co-star Miles Teller plays himself—except it’s a fictional version of himself that happens to be some sort of nationally renowned baseball prodigy complete with access to a party bus full of hot babes. (No, I don’t understand it, either.)

As hundreds upon hundreds of nubile young teens inexplicably descend upon the Kud residence, removing their clothes for the benefit of the cameras, our protagonist finds himself stuck in a depressingly tired scenario. Girl next door Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton) has been his best friend since forever, but now that she’s grown up to be wicked hot they’re both finally figuring out that they’ve actually been in love with one another the entire time. Isn’t it a shame that such self-discovery arrives on the same night the most popular mean girl in school (Alexis Knapp) can’t stop taking her top off for Thomas?

The lone joke in Project X is one of scale. The party gets so absurdly out of control we’ve soon got a nut-punching midget stuck in the oven and a drug dealer our kids ripped off shows up for revenge with a flamethrower. It’s just a lot of boobs and mayhem, devoid of wit.

Director Nima Nourizadeh sloppily orchestrates the action with an eye best described as leering, but it’s producer Todd Phillips’ personal stamp that comes through strongest. His Due Date and Hangover Part II pushed slob-comedy further and further into the actively unpleasant, and Project X stinks of a similar naughty-boy entitlement. The movie is stuck in smirky adolescent spats of rebellion and cro-magnon sexual politics.

It’s Superbad for bullies, ignoring the delicate insecurities and thoughtful character shadings that made the 2007 picture so very special—beneath the bluster. By contrast, Project X is just some boorish drunk dudes who want to use girls as receptacles. As Michael Cera said: “Here’s to respecting women!”

Grade: D-

Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper and Jonathan Daniel Brown

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Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 04:28PM

“Why should anyone take your opinions seriously when:

a) You can't even get the lead character's name correct (Kubb not Kud)
b) You can't figure out that EVERY single character in this movie is going by their real name, not just Miles
c) You being your trash article by clamoring for a 25 year old John Cusack movie about a monkey
d) You just come off as an extremely bitter dude who probably didn't get laid until you were 24

This movie is better than anything you will do in your whole life. Get over it.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 04:44PM

“So what you were expecting a tearjerker? A drama? It's a fun party movie. It delivered on everything it promised and then some. And I don't know what you mean by one of the most insufferable performances of the year, I thought that Costa kid was excellent and hilarious”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 05:15PM

“Actually it was Matthew Broderick not John Cusack, but they're the same guy anyways. And he started his article whining about found footage stuff, not a movie older than every star in the film. Either way, this guy certainly comes off as a bitter old guy who shouldn't even be seeing this movie. Your grandchildren are the target audience for this movie, not you. No wonder you're so pissy, they made you go see a loud movie about having fun.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 05:18PM

“Actually it was Matthew Broderick not John Cusack, but they're the same guy anyways. And he started his article whining about found footage stuff, not a movie older than every star in the film. Either way, this guy certainly comes off as a bitter old guy who shouldn't even be seeing this movie. Your grandchildren are the target audience for this movie, not you. No wonder you're so mad, they made you go see a loud movie about having fun.”

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5. CastorTroy said... on Feb 29, 2012 at 05:25PM

“Great review. It's obvious just from a plot description (but most definitely from the trailer) that this movie is a piece of garbage tossed out for sad little boob hunters. Have fun with those wet dreams, guys.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 1, 2012 at 03:37AM

“Excellent review. Thank you for actually reviewing the merits of the movie and putting it into context, culturally (and for what it's worth, cinematically.) It seems some of the above readers don't appreciate having their culture (or cinema) contextualized, and would wish only for your mindless chant of approval at anything which might enable a spark of pleasure to seep, evolutionarily, from their headless loins and reaffirm that they are indeed still alive. Kudos, Mookie, Fight The Power.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Mar 16, 2012 at 11:01PM

“This movie is the entertainment equivalent of staring at a pair of shit-streaked tighty whities for 2 hours. If you go see this movie, you deserve to get into a head-on collision on your way home. You know ...the type that leaves you a scorched heap, thrown through the windshield and your guts were ripped open on your way out as your carcass tumbled down the highway leaving a trail of brain matter. No wait, you'd have to have a brain first to leave a trail.”

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8. Anonymous said... on Jun 21, 2012 at 02:56AM

“As much as everyone cares about your little article, why even see a movie ment for mostly teens and pple who are interested in it? Do u enjoy wasting ur time then writing a bad review on a good movie because u never got into a party as a kid? For the record it wasnt ment to be a remake of the movie from the 80s, yeah Costa was "rude" its called fucking acting, and it's funny, soooooo much more i could say but...ill just say u rlly need to get laid and loosen up a bit...god knows ur tighter than A zipper”


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