‘Project X’ (2012) review: Party rocking in the house tonight

‘Project X’ the new ‘Animal House’

“Is this big enough to be cool?”

This premise, this singular focus, colors the entire experience of “Project X,” a party movie so debauched, so outlandish, so far-reaching in the damage it inflicts upon everyone and everything within striking distance, it makes the likes of “Superbad” and “The Hangover” look like tony soirees at a Manhattan high-rise.

“Project X,” the first feature film from Nima Nourizadeh, takes the classic high school party and blows it completely out of proportion. What was meant to be a small gathering for a 17-year-old’s birthday party instead devolves into a scene of utter anarchy, chaos and bedlam.

You see, it’s Thomas Kub’s (Thomas Mann) birthday, and his parents, whose anniversary happens to coincide with their son’s date of birth, are leaving for the weekend. (Worry not, Papa Kub tells Momma Kub: It’s Thomas. “He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.”) So, the parents leave, expecting to return to a pristine home. How little they know…

If it were just Thomas, things would have gone swimmingly. However, Thomas’ friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) has other plans. Some grand, outrageous other plans. Plans involving radio ads, mass text messaging and email blasts. The thing is, with Thomas’ parents gone for the weekend and his house available (it is a nice house, by the way), Costa, and their friend J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown), works his mischievous butt off to pull off the greatest house party ever. All in the name of getting laid.

Because if there’s any plot to this movie (and there’s a strong argument to be made that there isn’t), it revolves around sex. Lots of sex. Preferably with women the three friends have never met. Because the party is supposed to be a game-changer, the means by which they shoot up the popularity ladder. Oh, and there’s lot of alcohol, drugs and naked girls all over the place. A typical high school party, of course.

So, as the night progresses, the situation steadily worsens: from no one at the house at 9 p.m. to 1,500 by 3 a.m.; from no one inside the house to midgets being locked up in ovens and people hanging from chandeliers; from neighbors being warned about the possibility of some party-related noise to those same neighbors being Tazered; from the party being contained to one house to most of the street being burned down in glorious riot-style.

“Project X,” written by Matt Drake (“Spin City”) and Michael Bacall (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and produced by Todd Phillips (“The Hangover”), will appeal to a certain audience segment: teenage and 20-something males, and maybe even some older guys who recall the glory of their youth. There is no message embedded in “X.” There’s no lesson to be learned. The point here is to get drunk, high and laid at the most awesome party ever, though not necessarily in that order. It’s a tale of debauched shenanigans, where one of the more dignified moments involves a 12-year-old being punched in the face.

And that’s a bit of a saving grace. Because of a lack of plot, any character development would have been wasted. Along with a decent mix of viewpoint options (the movie is filmed in the found-footage method), a clever script, a party-ready soundtrack and some surprisingly sharp editing, “Project X” manages to shines regardless of it being a mash-up of the trailblazers before it. (The movie was inspired by the real-life antics of Corey Delaney, an Australian teenager who threw a house party in 2008 so out of control riot police were called in.)

And it shines in large part because it’s a celebration of youth, not a cautionary tale of succumbing to your baser desires. And despite its absurd take on the possible, there is a distinct sense of realism that plays throughout. When you see the kids after they’ve taken hits of Ecstasy, they look genuinely, stunningly high. It’s a little shocking.

“Project X” is the party you dreamed of in high school. Hell, it’s all that and more. It’s totally big enough to be cool.

Four partying stars out of five.

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