Lessons learned from watching

Project X


1. The secret to high school popularity is to throw a legendary party, the likes of which people will talk about for years, with details that will never be mentioned in a college application essay.

2. Girls shouldn't worry about taking off their shirts and bras at a party with a couple of hundred or thousand people because no one will ever record them with a phone or camera.

3. High school and college students can easily get their hands on beer and the hard stuff and tote it to a party as though they were bringing soft drinks.

4. When a secret stash of Ecstasy is unleashed, underage partygoers will swallow anything. No questions asked.

5. Police are easily turned away the first time. The second time, they might come in riot gear.

Project X takes the tried-and-true formula - parents out of town, so spread the word about the party - and inflates it like a bouncy house. This time, anonymous high schooler Thomas (Thomas Mann) is turning 17 and his parents are going away to celebrate their anniversary.

His father confesses, "I'm not an idiot, I know you're gonna have friends over." He says Thomas can have four or five people, tops, to their house in North Pasadena, but his car and office are off limits. He's not really worried about a blowout, telling his wife, "He's a sweet kid, but he's a loser."

Dad does not count on Thomas' wheeler-dealer pal Costa (Oliver Cooper) who preaches, "If we want to be big-time players, we need to make a big play." This bash, organized with a third friend, JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown), is going to change everything for them, they hope, and it turns out they're right.

Project X, directed by Nima Nourizadeh who made his mark with music videos and commercials, tracks the preparations but spends most of the time on the party as it gets bigger and noisier and more out of control and destructive.

The comedy, also featuring Miles Teller from Footloose and Rabbit Hole as a college jock who brings a busload of guests, is every responsible adult's nightmare.

It celebrates sexist, illegal, selfish and just plain stupid behavior although it is energetically assembled and set to hip-hop and indie rock music. It's amusing to see just how far the party will go but it's clearly aimed at immature teenage boys who lust for girls normally out of their league.

Project X **(out of four stars)

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh. With Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, and Jonathan Daniel Brown. Distributed by IMAX.

Running time: 1 hour, 28 mins.

Parent's guide: R (crude and sexual content, nudity, drugs, drinking, pervasive profanity, reckless behavior and mayhem - all involving teens)

Playing at: area theaters