Remember a few weeks ago when I lamented reviewing “found-footage” movies seemingly every week?
This isn’t a trend that wants to go away. It has embedded itself into the head of Hollywood like a bastard deer tick given the gift of immortality.
I would love to be some sort of movie prophet successfully predicting the death of this particular genre. But the continued financial success of junk like the Paranormal movies, the shaky-cam exorcism movies and Chronicle probably has studio heads at this very moment looking at rejected scripts and reconsidering them as future “found footage” extravaganzas. Cut that budget, employ the shaky cam, and watch the dollars roll in!
The latest offender is Project X, produced by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips and directed by Nima Nourizadeh. The film is just another unoriginal R-rated teen comedy about a really, really big party. Except this time the whole thing is presented under the pretense that it’s filmed by some weirdo for his AV class.
I was a little less annoyed by a person continuing to film while supposedly funny things are happening as opposed to holding onto the camera while being attacked by monsters and maniacs as in past “found footage” films. I personally believe it would be quite easy to film partying topless women in a bounce house without pissing your pants, dropping the camera and running away screaming in fear. It’s just a theory of mine.
That said, the script for this movie is no better than one of the American Pie direct-to-video sequels. While a bunch of teens getting together and throwing a wild party has been funny in the past, and will most assuredly be funny in the future, it is not funny with Project X thanks to a mostly unmemorable cast.
In the role of the normal teen who will go all rebel by film’s end, there’s Thomas Mann as Thomas, the birthday boy for whom the giant party is thrown. The party is orchestrated by Costa (Oliver Cooper), and he’s using Thomas’s house because the parents are away, and he wouldn’t dare do anything this potentially destructive at his own place. Throw in Jonathan Daniel Brown as the fat guy trying to get laid, and you have your basic blueprint for a high school sex comedy.
The party starts slow, but once it gets rolling, the “no people in the house” rule goes out the window, and things eventually start breaking and catching fire. Automobiles wind up in pools, dudes show up with flamethrowers. It’s your standard Saturday night kegger gone awry. Except this time, it’s all shaky, and Nourizadeh seems more concerned with this escalating chaos than actual comedy.
Most of the gags are just variations on the same old jokes we’ve seen before. A little man punches people in the junk like Wee-Man from Jackass. A dog humps things. A guy finds a dildo and waves it around. I’m surprised nobody screwed a pie or shot a load into a beer glass.
How is it that moviegoers are flocking en masse to dreck like this? What’s next? Will they do a found-footage remake of Titanic where Jack just happens to have a prototype movie camera in his bag courtesy of a curious Thomas Edison? Or a JFK found-footage film courtesy of a small 8mm camera planted by the CIA in Jackie O’s pillbox hat? This way we could see the assassination up close and in our face. It would make the Zapruder film look like Dumbo. While they’re at it, they could jump on another trend and make it a 3-D JFK assassination film. Why not? They’re going 3-D with Titanic.
The found-footage phenomena is like an aggressive cinematic virus released in a film studio by one of those crazy bad virus monkeys, and nobody, not Dustin Hoffman, not Matt Damon, will be able to stop it.
In fact, I hear Dustin Hoffman is hard at work on a found-footage remake of Tootsie. Should be a real gas! And shaky!