Project X

Nima Nourizadeh makes a disappointing feature debut with “Project X,” a genre flick about yet another chaotic house party that spirals out of control.

It’s too bad that the gifted Todd Phillips (“The Hangover” pictures) who produced the film, didn’t exercise firmer authority in executing this mildly funny but utterly predictable comedy.

The two main problems are that, by standards of its own genre, “Project X” is not funny or wild enough and that the characters are really unlikable.  Contrary to expectations, you find yourself rooting for the upset neighbors to terminate the party than the orchsetrators of this wannabe mess.

I think the filmmakers confuse chaos and disorder with riotous fun.  And the film’s central conceit–three anonymous high school seniors trying to make a name for themselves—remains just that, a conceit.

The three amigos delude themselves that they have a great, original idea–throwing a party that would be so wild no one will be able forget.  Also not original is the notion of inserting a semi-documentary touches by having a camera there to chronicle this fake historical event in the making.

Slavishly following the conventions (codes) of the party movie formula, nothing works as was expected–or hoped for.  In short order, dreams are ruined, fantasies shattered, and records blemished.

The producers try to make a big thing out of using a cast cast of newcomers, selected for their parts through a nationwide cattle call.   But none of the central characters is particularly good or appealing.

And it doesn’t help that they are all familiar types–even stereotyps.  Protagonist is Thomas (Thomas Mann), the quintessential youth who is sweet and vulnerable and can’t wait to reach the ritualistic age of 17.  J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) is the taciturn outsider, a most who’s happy just to be included in the clique. Oliver Cooper plays another outsider, an out of towner, a confident yet unwilling transplant from Queens to North Pasadena.