"Project X" is every parent's nightmare. Hopefully, it's not every teen's dream.
Many of us have dealt with a cat's-away-mice-will-play scenario, in which parents head off for a much-needed weekend, entrusting the family home to their teenage darlings with the standard edict -- "No parties while we're gone." Usually followed by: "I mean it! and "I will be checking in from time to time."
Baby boomers have seen this played out in the Tom Cruise classic, "Risky Business." Joel manages to pull it off, grows up a bit in the process and even gets accepted to his first-choice college, all while taking a huge gamble.
No such luck in this found-footage fiasco, despite a ridiculous attempt to slip in a positive spin.
This is called "Project X." And no, it's not a remake of the Matthew Broderick/Helen Hunt monkeys-just-want-to-be-free movie that moved a generation to tears.
This is the efforts of North Pasadena high school friends, Costa and J.B., trying to make a name for themselves by hosting an off-the-hook birthday party for their shy buddy, Thomas.
Thomas is a quiet, normally obedient kid, who gets pushed by the brash, uncouth and obnoxious Costa to host a party.
Initially, Thomas insists that it include only a few people and that the house be off-limits, but as the throng grows to hundreds of drunken, wild and crazy strangers, the trio loses control of events and it turns into utter chaos.
Warner Bros. looked for an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood that would allow them to shoot over the span of five weeks, from 5 p.m. to
5 a.m., but not surprisingly, there were no takers. Shocking!
So instead, the studio used a neighborhood set built on its own lot, much of which was eventually destroyed during filming -- and still, real neighbors nearby called police to complain about the noise.
New York disc jockey Jesse Marco kept the set hopping even when cameras weren't rolling to maintain the energy of the crowd that showed up night after night for the film's background shots.
I don't want to get all "parent-y" here, but where is the social responsibility? This free-for-all shows drunken kids having unprotected sex, while destroying every material object in their path. I'm all for having a good time, but this underaged mob displays zero consideration for anything or anyone.
You couldn't even call this hedonism, since a true pleasure-seeking hedonist derives no pleasure from pain -- of which there is plenty here.
Then on top of all that, this movie has the nerve to suggest that some good might have come out of all of this destruction and debauchery, because Thomas has learned to assert himself.
Unlike "Risky Business" Joel, he'll be doing it with a now-empty college fund and a family forced to live broke and stuffed into a motel room.
Way to go, Thomas. You showed 'em.
Steve Salles can be reached at films@ standard.net