Project X is Superbad
Now that the once top-secret Todd Phillips comedy, Project X, is out in theatres, there’s one thing that everyone seems to be saying: “This movie is Superbad.” And no, person that was absent from movies in 2007, I don’t mean the movie was super bad. The film, directed by newcomer Nima Nourizadeh and staring a mostly unknown cast, follows three kids in high school over one night at a party. Sound similar? Well the similarities don’t end there. Although at first glance the plot seems to be all that is the same, the three main characters are also surprisingly reminiscent of those in Superbad.
We have the tall, skinny, and not terribly ugly awkward kid, played here by the great Thomas Mann, and played in Superbad by the great Michael Cera. He’s trying to be cool for the night and forget about his reputation as a loser at his high school, all while trying to impress a hot girl that see’s him as a friend.
That guy’s best friend is the vulgar, thinks-he’s-cooler-than-he-is loser. He’s a little overweight, has curly hair, and pretends he’s well versed in the high school social hierarchy and the world around him. Spoiler: he’s not. He was played by Jonah Hill in Superbad and he’s played by Oliver Cooper here.
Next is the third-wheel – the McLovin if you will. He’s the group’s punching bag, he tries to pioneer style (a vest in Superbad, a suit/dinner jacket combo in Project X), and no one really knows who he is or cares to find out. In Projext X he’s physically different, more along the lines of Jonah Hill than Christopher Mintz-Plasse, but he’s the same general character. Also, he’s played by a guy named Jonathan Daniel Brown, so at least he’s got the three names thing down like Mintz-Plasse does.
So what we’ve got right from the get-go is essentially a remake of Superbad. Personally, I think Superbad is the funniest and most well-rounded comedy ever made, as do many people, so there’s a lot of risk in remaking Superbad after only five years. I’ve been dying to see a sequel to Superbad since it came out in 2007 but Seth Rogen has made it clear that it’s not going to happen, so Project X is the closest we’re going to get. But that is a very, very good thing.
Project X is not only a great film, but it’s also a film worthy to share these similarities with Superbad and craft a new story and experience from its skeleton. It’s a film that is destined to live on as a comedy classic and be this generation’s go to quote-machine. Expect to see Project X shirts and posters and hear people shouting lines from the film for years to come. Just as Superbad made superstars out of its main cast, Project X is set to do the same. Watch out for the three main actors because in one year’s time they’ll be in everything.
The reason Project X doesn’t stand out as a heartless, cash-grab attempt at remaking Superbad is because it has more than enough differences to stand on its own. There’s no doubt that critics will be reviewing this film based on the merits of Superbad and whether or not it copies it, but Project X is really just a completely new film with a seemingly similar premise.
Superbad was a very well written film. Most of its jokes were dialogue driven and came from not only the quality of the script but also from the delivery of the actors. While there’s plenty of verbal comedy in Project X, a lot of the comedy derives from the visual gags throughout the film. It makes for a movie that’s less laugh-out-loud-funny than Superbad, but is still just as enjoyable.
Another thing Superbad did superbly was blending comedy with heart. While there was more of it throughout Superbad, Project X still has some nice moments that come off natural and welcome for a story of its type. Just as in Superbad, the actors here do a great job of selling everything in the most natural way possible; nothing feels forced or out of place here.
Where Project X excels is in its scope and absurdity. As the party grows throughout the film, more and more keeps happening to keep the viewer on edge and not expecting what’s going to come next. It’s a great tool for comedy, and in some cases it provides great action scenes as well. Although the term “like _______ on crack” has been used an awful lot lately, Project X really is like Superbad on crack in this respect. Everything is intensified, everything is heightened, and the end result is more madness and insanity than Superbad could have dared.
All this being said, Project X is as close to perfection as any film channeling Superbad could ever hope to be. It emulates everything that is to be loved about Superbad while going above and beyond in many ways to create a name for itself. It’s got laughs, heart, characters that have been proven loveable in Superbad and a safe, tested, and very familiar plot. And then it blows those things out of the water (sometimes literally) to come into its own. It turns into an insane roller-coaster ride of a film that showcases the best of what everyone involved has to offer. It showcases the newcomer actors’ great talents, the small-time director’s big break, and Todd Phillips’ love for the increasingly escalating situations that keep going wrong.
If you’re a fan of Superbad, you should immediately fall in love with Project X once you see it. If you’re a fan of great films, ditto.