Three high school seniors host a birthday bash that descends into chaos in the latest from producer Todd (<em>The Hangover</em>) Phillips, <em>Project X</em>.

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Three high school seniors host a birthday bash that descends into chaos in the latest from producer Todd (The Hangover) Phillips, Project X.

Project X

Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown star in a film written by Michael Bacall and Matt Drake and directed by Nima Nourizadeh.

In short, Project X is a squalid little piece of cinetrash, shamelessly going for the base stuff and tapping into the genre traditions laid down by American Pie, the Judd Apatow franchise, and The Hangovers (whose producer, Todd Phillips, was behind this romp). That said, pull up some popcorn, grab a multiplex seat, unplug the discerning intellectual capacities, and soak in the outlandish doings and self-indulgent excess of this token teen rite-of-passage yarn.

Hedonism runs rampant, suburbia-style, when the parents head out of town and our relatively innocent protagonist is talked into turning this fine North Pasadena home into party central. Word goes out, hyper-virally (this plotline wouldn’t have been feasible in the era before Craigslist, text messaging, mass emailing, and the like), and party-seekers from far and wide descend on the neighborhood. What transpires, including broken windows and trashed and burned homes, topless teen girls in the pool, a midget in the oven (who gets his revenge with plenty of punches to male groins), and a psycho with a blowtorch, amounts to a fantasy about the ’burbs gone wild.

Probably the most interesting aspects of the movie have to do with the backstory and side stories involved. Buzz about this film began with its generic title: Project X was supposed to be a placeholder for the “real” title but won out, and the idea was to cast nonactors and actors without screen credits. Built into the premise of the story itself is a faux vérité/reality programming angle, with the entire film being “shot” by a high school friend, a post-Blair Witch tactic, not to mention budget-shaving trick, that keeps sneaking into theaters near us (see the cool, recent exorcist flick The Devil Inside).

Have no fear: Like most features in the “outrageous comedy” racket, this one atones for its happy heap of sins, and comeuppance for the party excesses comes to pass by film’s end. Our hero emerges with his integrity, with allegiance to his “real” fated lover somehow intact. America is still a puritanical and litigious place at the core, after all. Even our trashy comedies teach us this.

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