Project X

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on March 05, 2012

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Dear John Agoglia
Location Manager

Dear John,

As a 28 year-old guy, Project X seems like the best shooting experience ever. I'd like to imagine that the overlong party sequence required weeks of topless extras, countless takes of jumping into the pool from every possible angle, and wild, improvised moments of debauchery for the numerous montages. But instead, I couldn't help think of you.

Why? Because apparently, I just got old.

Full disclosure: the fact that I'm a very recent homeowner might have had something to do with my inability to enjoy all the onscreen anarchy. But I wasn't alone in the audience. As I glanced around and saw people over the age of 30 shielding their eyes, it wasn't due to any gross-out humour. It's because we all shared the pain of responsibility. Much like you.

However, I suppose it's possible you were the film crew's answer to the character "Costa"- charmingly conning the real property owner and neighbours into believing everything would be fine. If that's the case, I commend you for probably negotiating lower location fees because there were no stars in the film and it was to be shot like a home-movie. After all, the producers would be the ones on the hook if things got out of control. Todd Philips and Joel Silver can certainly afford to trash whatever McMansion they need in the quest for the next box-office hit. But somehow I don't think you treated your job with such woeful disregard for decency as the film's awful best friend.

My suspicion is you were more like the unwanted parent of the film set, considered a "wet blanket" by all the halfwits who put this film together. If the script is any indication, you had one hell of a mess to clean up.

The plot is straight out of a Katy Perry music video, and so much more (of the same). Why not go all the way, and at least render the parents as rich, uptight, repressive snobs who had the destruction of their entire personal fortune coming? And shouldn't you give the neighbours more villainous characteristics than just calling the cops? When it comes to a sober second voice looking over the script, only the legal department spoke up. I'm guessing it was their insistence that the characters stress it's a "seniors only" party, so we could enjoy all the bare breasts without fear of moral litigation. For that, please pass on my thanks.

So why am I upset? Did I not know what I was getting into? Well, call me as naive as the film's "hero" Thomas, but no, I guess I didn't. I shouldn't expect anything cleverer than a midget punching people in the balls from what is essentially The Teenage Hangover: Before the Blackout. But Project X one-ups those tedious exercises in "comedy" by not giving us a single character to care about. We're more than happy to forget all the idiots we had to deal with on screen, kind of like the high school experience itself.

Whoa, maybe that's the point?

Nope. This is no cautionary tale. The film wears the consequences like a badge of honor. Yet, with the exception of someone trying to torch the neighbourhood with a flame-thrower (spoiler alert?), I can't accuse the film of not being somewhat credible. We've seen the YouTube interview with that Melbourne teen who undoubtedly inspired the film (made almost explicit in the final sequence). I guess that's where my age starts to show. The cartoonish Animal House antics have now become an instruction manual for how to get popular in today's 15 seconds of fame universe.

The Gen X answer to this film is certainly last week's release Wanderlust. Produced by Judd Apatow, it has all the same themes, copious amounts of nudity, people taking drugs, partying all hours of the night, yet somehow gives us characters experiencing a meaningful struggle. The cardboard cutout people we get in Project X don't truly undergo changes, they just rise superficial steps up a social ladder that's about to end. The hollowness of this final high-note is therefore obvious to everyone outside the target demographic. Unfortunately, the kids who will eat this film up still have their biggest mistakes ahead of them.

I've been to big, out-of-control high school house parties. A smart host usually calls the cops themselves in a closed room, then plays the hero in front of the friends while having saved face from the police. Imagine that twist, actually bringing a dimension to the characters beyond just insecure pawns.

But why am I telling you this? You were supposed to be the responsible adult on set. All I can say, is I share your pain.

Aging like a stinky cheese,

Old Man Redmond

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