Approaching my mid-20s, I feel like I must now exit the culture of partying.
I've been there, I've done that, I've seen it all. Years removed from high school, I romanticize all those moments of teenage naivety; dodging authority and projectile vomiting Everclear. Some of the best memories of my life came between the hours of 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., blasting R. Kelly's "I'm A Flirt," and I will cherish them forever. But, after the years of going H.A.M. (why did I just say that?) and being on the peripheral for this event at an Illinois college; enough is enough and it's time for a change.
I sound like some old curmudgeon for my condemnation of getting totally gnarly during the weekends, but I've reached my limit. Partying has become stale. I'm tired of LMFAO and Skrillex. I'm tired of social media-magnifying weekend warriors who update statuses with "GETTING SUPER BUCK!!!" or post pictures of their friend Chad, who got wasted on Sailor Jerry, getting a wiener drawn on his face. I'm tired of hangovers, 30 racks, drunken fools, horrible music, bald bouncers, menthol cigarettes, people spending too much time in bathrooms, beer pong, pictures of people playing beer bong and especially pictures of people talking pictures of people playing beer pong.
So, in one last fleeting attempt to vicariously reclaim those glorious years of teenaged vagrancy, I went to see Project X. The trailers were convincing enough -- "BEST PARTY MOVIE EVER" -- and it's not like I was going to see The Lorax (but I probably should have). Before going, I looked at people tweeting about the film. The general consensus was that the movie was super awesome and everyone couldn't wait to throw a party like the one depicted. In the theater, the kids who were talking about drinking cough syrup during the previews were laughing hysterically (especially when the little person was punching dudes in the testicles! LOL!).
This movie made me feel old. I realized that if I were 14, perhaps having taken my first sip of citrus-flavored vodka, this would probably be the greatest movie I've ever seen in my life. With my wide, glassy eyes, I would assume that this glamorous portrait of boobs and body shots was Mecca and the next time my friend's parents go for a long weekend at the lake, we're totally doing that, bro!
Project X is aesthetically pleasing, but a really, really bad movie. It's like the writers took every cliché from a John Hughes movie, injected it with dubstep and MDMA and figured it would be rad if a dude with a flamethrower signaled the climax. My problem is not with the obvious illogical and impossible parts of the party -- the cops would have been there within the first 10 minutes, no college kids are coming to some nerdbomber's party, there were not enough shot glasses, nor red cups to go around -- it's with the utter absence of any heart.
Heart? Yes, heart.
My party movies growing up were Can't Hardly Wait and American Pie. Years later, I realize they weren't as good as they once seemed, but at least those films had the decency to develop characters and make the party secondary to the narrative. When Stifler drank the semen-filled beer cup, your heart cockles felt for this man. Even Kid and Play pajama-jamming in House Party 2 had some emotional resonance and not just random montages reminiscent of when MTV played house music after midnight in the 90s.
Project X is just a bunch of kids doing stuff. Yeah, there's a thinly-constructed plot and character arcs found in $1 store young adult fiction, but it's more or less a series of lame vignettes from the wet dream of a freshman. Over here is someone with an erection. Over there are two dogs humping. And oh look, there is a gnome flipping the bird. It's like a social media timeline of seeing stupid people do stupid stuff, and you have the pleasure of paying $10 to see it all go down. It's void of any zeal that happens at a real shindig -- whether it's a 1,500 person pool party or a dozen dudes in a basement. Any party you've ever been to is better than Project X because everyone was empathetic to the cause. You remember the people, the anecdotes, the smells, the music, the suspect sirens in the distance and the way all of that made you feel.
Project X doesn't make you feel anything.
Partying has lost its mystique. It has lost its prestige. It's like breathing and blogging; everyone does it. Less than 10 years ago, it still had a sense of folklore to it. On Monday morning, you'd swap tales of all of the nefarious stuff that went down during the weekend. Now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and everything else on the internet, we know that Stephanie puked from taking a beer bong of tequila before the puke even reaches the ground.
Since Project X relies on the tired gimmick of being a found-footage movie, and looks to be getting a sequel, instead of spending money on something so manufactured and souless, why not just compile 90 minutes of footage from YouTube? The first act could be followed by people taking hits of salvia. The second act could be this chill bro beer-bonging Four Loko. For the rousing conclusion, drunk people peeing on themselves while peeing on other drunk people. It would be just as effective for the demographic that Project X is going for.
Party on, y'all.