By Brian Chidueme |Staff Writer|
“Project X” may try to be the next “Superbad,” but we don’t really need another attempt at trying to one-up the fabled 2007 sleeper flick.
While the concepts of both films are similar, what made “Superbad” memorable was that there were characters that audiences actually cared about. From McLovin, to a pair of cops that break the stereotype of police officers as bad guys, the film became a huge hit without trying to be a huge hit.
Where “Superbad” succeeded is where “Project X” fails on several crucial areas.
“Project X’s” premise becomes clear that the film is trying too hard to outdo “Superbad.” By focusing on the teenage trio of Costa, Thomas and J.B., the film attempts to create the greatest party of their lives while disguising it as Thomas’ seventeenth birthday.
The rest of the film is more of a glorified MTV special that supposedly tries to market itself as “the party you’ve only dreamed about.” Instead, “Project X” drowns in its own debauchery by making the entire feel of the party as stereotypical and misogynistic as possible.
For example, the character of Costa seems to be like a parallel of Jonah Hill’s ‘Seth’ character in “Superbad,” but without any element of likability. By centering his entire life upon getting laid, there’s nothing redeeming about him. In fact, there’s nothing to even like about him.
Another area that the film fails to be the next “Superbad” is its lack of humanity within. Sure, these teens are getting wasted and trying to do anything to get spaced out beyond belief, but the viewer is constantly asking himself, “What’s the point of all this? And what is everyone getting out of this at the end?”
It would be easy to interpret the overall product as a stark social commentary on Generation Y at its worst (excluding the film’s climatic sequence straight out of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots), but the film doesn’t advertise itself as such.
However, the Michael Bacall-penned script isn’t as bad as expected, and barely saves “Project X” from being a complete failure. Despite some solid dialogue and a realistic feel, especially with the film’s cinema vérité, Nima Nourizadeh’s debut effort with “Project X” shows that the director has a lot of potential that wasn’t yet realized.
What could have worked was that instead of the film being a mean-spirited music video, there should have been a bigger emphasis on the party going wrong. The acts of mayhem depicted in the climatic sequences, from a crazed guy with a flamethrower torching the entire neighborhood to riot police struggling to maintain an already disturbed peace, needed more attention.
All in all, while “Project X” isn’t a total failure, the film is far from being the next “Superbad.” It chokes in the midst of its own debauchery and mean-spirited chaos. It could have ended up being the biggest party that anyone has ever dreamed about, but it ends up being the biggest party that the audience doesn’t seem to care about.