It had to happen someday - it's just amazing it's taken so long. But now that former ad and music video director Nima Nourizadeh has mixed single camera, cinema verité style with the dynamics of the teen sex comedy and come up with The Blair Witch Free Gaff, we can expect a fair few knock-offs (sorry) in the years ahead. Hell, they're probably planning a sequel to this wild night already. And the best bits here suggest there's enough potential in the characters to warrant one.
When the unfortunately named Thomas Kub (Mann) turns 17, his off-for-the-weekend parents give him the keys to the people carrier and tell him he's allowed have some friends over for the evening. By their (and indeed everyone else's) reckoning, Thomas is not exactly 'Mr Popular' in his Pasadena high school, and so the prospect of mayhem in the suburbs seems remote. Thomas, however, is best friends with Costa (Cooper), a bouffant-haired blow-in from New York who's convinced that he's the biggest playa in the history of teenage white boys and has the powers to throw Thomas the greatest party ever. Birthday boy reckons he'd really be living on the edge if they invited 50 people over; Costa wants to add another zero to that figure - and will use any means necessary to get every hot girl in a 30-mile radius turning up chez Kub. Drinking as much and wearing as little as possible.
If you're still smarting from the non-event that was The Hangover Part II and hankering for low-brow thrills, Project X will oblige. It may share its name with a movie about chimps, but there the similarities end - what you're getting here is the devil's workshop and, at the very least, will lead to dusk to dawn curfews the world over and assertions that Irish society is now only one shindig away for becoming The Road. How low do Kub & co go? Try gnome kidnapping.
Nourizadeh knows how to film a get-together and the casting of unknowns (gathered from a US-wide search) and the first-person point of view approach enhance the film's warped charm. There was, however, far more comedy to be had from the movie's structure and supporting characters, with the over-reliance on dance and debauchery montages showing a lack of ideas and faith in the talents at their disposal - a pity because Mann, Cooper and Brown (the third amigo) are all very watchable. Bottom line: if you're expecting Project X to be the equal of Superbad and producer Todd Phillips' Old School think again - this is a watch-once not treasure-forever movie.
Be prepared to get a little misty-eyed about your own greatest scrapes, but whatever you did, it wasn't as outrageous as this shower's antics. Swines.