Beth Dubber/Warner Bros
Chris Nashawaty
June 20, 2012 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Project X

Current Status
In Season
Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt
Jonathan Kaplan

We gave it a B

Can we all just admit that handheld movies are a gimmick? And a tired one at that? Ever since The Blair Witch Project made a heap of dough out of its shaky-cam conceit, teen-targeted movies have been leaning on the whole first-person, documentary-style setup to spice up their predictable plotlines. But just when I was ready to call it a day with the format, along comes the riotous high school comedy Project X (2012, R, 1 hr., 28 mins.). Not to be confused with the Matthew Broderick chimp movie from 1987, this Project X is Risky Business for the Facebook age. Set in North Pasadena, the movie revolves around three high school dudes who throw an epic beer bash so they can graduate from pimply losers to party-god legends. Costa (played by Oliver Cooper) is an obnoxious loudmouth who persuades his buddy Thomas (Thomas Mann) to bust out the whippets and hoist the funnels when his parents go out of town for the weekend. Rounding out the crew are J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown), a tubbier McLovin, and Dax (Dax Flame), who sticks behind the camera to capture their 24-hour bacchanal for posterity. Produced by The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips, Project X doesn’t skimp on racy R-rated highlights: Topless girls bounce in one of those inflatable moon tents; the family dog humps everything that moves; Thomas’ dad’s car ends up in the swimming pool. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare played out over 88 minutes (94 minutes if you watch the disc’s extended version). Even if Project X‘s ending is a feel-good cop-out, it restored my faith in the idea of a few guys, a shaky cam, and a dream. B

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