REVIEW: This is not your father's teen movie. Where Ferris Bueller's idea of a good time was to skip school and see a baseball game, maybe sing in a parade, the kids of "Project X," raised on YouTube and "Jersey Shore," want to throw an enormous house party where they and the rest of their underage classmates drink, do drugs, swim topless, have sex, and dirty dance. And if that means mom and dad's house gets ruined in the process, eh, as long as the girl next door still thinks they're cute.
They have no respect for property or neighbors, never met a joke that wasn't profane, and won't even talk to a girl who's less than a 10, even though they themselves are as plain as unbuttered toast.
That said, high-schooler Thomas (Thomas Mann) still seems like a pretty good kid, but he's more than willing to let loudmouth pal Costa talk him into stealing from a drug dealer, lying to his trusting parents, and accidentally setting fire to his Pasadena neighborhood when his 17th birthday party gets way out of hand. Of course, since this is the "pics or it didn't happen" generation, everything is filmed, and at least one viewer at my screening complained about the shaky hand-held camera work.
Although supposedly loosely based on an infamous Australian teen's out-of-hand party, "Project X" feels like pure teen fantasy, and fantasy can indeed be fun to watch. Once the party kicks in, it's hard not to get caught up in the wave of ever-escalating action, which doesn't end until innocent neighbors are Tased, homes set on fire, SWAT teams deployed, and dad's luxury car is at the bottom of the pool. The dialogue is believable (and R-rated), and a funny subplot involving two skinny teens who act as the party's security gets some big laughs.
The filmmakers held a nationwide search to cast the film, although Mann has some acting experience. The three leads (and creepy cameraman Dax, who gets a great black-humored sideplot) are easy to accept as real teens, even if one hopes that real teens would have some sort of good judgment.
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