Project X was released over the weekend to mediocre reviews but substantial box office returns. I saw Project X myself. I have many issues with the final product but what it intended on doing – entertain from start to finish – it accomplished, and in my opinion, greatly so. You can put down your Requiem For A Dream soundtrack and relax with your groaning because sometimes you just want a piece of trash entertainment, and really that is all Project X is and nothing more. Does the film have a strongly written and authentic story of best friends such as Superbad? Not even. Is it a modern classic like Mean Girls? No. But again, this is never what it wanted to be. The characters are terrible and terribly written, the plot is pretty much this: a party happens, and it’s ridiculous and falls apart in the final act. But, again, I was COMPLETELY ENTERTAINED from start to finish. You can stop reading any time you like.
Last year the box office saw a low attendance from teenagers, in particular males. The teens showed up for fanfare such as those Twilight movies and of course, Harry Potter and maybe one or two Superhero movies, but ultimately, they just didn’t show up. Every critic and blogger out there wailed that it’s because they don’t want to go to the movies anymore, the computer has taken over etc… I stated almost 2 years ago that that is not the case nor ever will be (for now). Why didn’t teenagers show up? BECAUSE THERE WAS NOTHING FOR THEM TO GO AND SEE. Flat out. In the Oscar/Billy Crystal issue of Entertainment Weekly, Crystal is asked about how the Oscars are trying to re-invent themselves, remain classic but obtain the youth demographic and Crystal says (and this isn’t pure verbatim so bare with me as I try and remember from the top of my head):
I went to the movies with Bette Midler to see Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the trailers before the movie were so dark and morose and I said to Bette, “where is the story?”. They’re not making things for the youth anymore, it’s all for adults.
Pretty sure the quote is completely different from that but you get the point (and how much do you love that him and Bette Midler fucking just go to watch Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?). Hollywood and the people within it never blame themselves and only point fingers at everyone else. Instead of trying to figure out what went wrong they just ignored the problem. Once again: if you will make it for them, they will show. For example: my brother is a film fan like myself though doesn’t go as often. He only goes if he legitimately is dying to see it or him and his friends are going, unlike myself who goes on average once a week. He went opening night to see Project X. My brother has good film taste, of course, and he admittedly said he enjoyed it. He loves Superbad and Mean Girls too (he’s never been one for 80’s fare like myself #BreakfastClubForever) but he knew what Project X was going to be and enjoyed it. But the thing to take away from this is: they SHOWED up on opening night! I should also add that the showing they attended was sold out and they stood around for the next showing.
The scary thing for many though is the supposed reality Project X brings to the world of film. On my Twitter feed (follow me: @jthecritic) all the snobs I follow – and I love them all of course – were complaing about Project X and how it’s ruining our youth and degrading cinema (you can thank Jack & Jill for that). I get what they’re saying, it’s for the degenerate audience, the Jersey Shore prototype (and it really is because the entire audience in the theatre at my screening was filled with douchebags) but throw away trash is throw away trash, end of story. The problem lies when it’s not identified as that and is only acceptable when you recognize it as such, you know? This movie isn’t a good movie but it was an entertaining movie. Project X didn’t reinvent something – it’s just another notch on the Found Footage genre belt – but what it did was grow with the times when so many other movies simply are not. For example: Disney released a movie called Prom last year. No one saw it. Why? Because it was made and marketed for 10 year old girls. That movie still angers me even while writing this because not only was it a wasted opportunity on a easily bankable premise but… Disney making a movie about prom is like Snooki trying to become an author. To quote Valerie Cherish “I don’t need to see that!” and neither did anyone else.
Project X won’t ruin our youth and it doesn’t ruin our cinema. All it does – fortunately or unfortunately – is simply displaying where youth is today. It’s not a great image to look at but it’s entertaining none the less. While the movie isn’t great, it’s growth and adaptation is. This is how you make a movie for teenagers in this day and age. All I’m saying is I don’t want to see every teen movie to resemble Project X – no thank you, once was enough – but I want more to grow with the times as this film did so brilliantly. And not on a film level but also in terms of marketing; studios simply can’t push a movie through TV spots and trailers anymore social media must play a giant role, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and etc… you need to PUSH your product. You NEED to make the youth think this movie is important enough to step away from their Tumblr and go and watch. Sad or not, this is where we are at.