Jessie Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart are joining forces to be tepidly awkward together once again, but not for the hotly anticipated Adven2reland. The pair will star together in American Ultra, an action comedy directed by Nima Nourizadeh. The film's screenplay was written by Max Landis, the scribe of 2012's super-hero thriller Chronicle.
In the upcoming film, Mike (Eisenberg) is a lazy stoner who lives with his girlfriend Pheobe (Stewart). One night, their lives take an unexpected turn when Mike's past comes back to haunt him, and he becomes the target of a government operation set to wipe him out.
The two stars possessed a nerdy charm and chemistry that made Adventureland an enjoyable indie hit. Hopefully they can transfer that chemistry to this new film which sounds like it has more of a moving plot then a coming of age amusement park dramedy. Ever since Adventureland, the two stars have had divergent career paths —Eisenberg successfully taking on high profile projects like The Social Network and being nominated for awards, while Stewart stormed the box office (and the gossip columns) as Bella Swan, but has had trouble kicking off a new film franchise. After the Twilight explosion ended and Snow White and the Huntsman flopped, Stewart has been seeking shelter in indie projects. While this mini Adventureland reunion could be a satifying dose of 2009 nostalgia, it is missing a key component. Unfortunately, creepy Ryan Reynolds will not be taking part in the new film.
Former Adventureland co-stars Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg are reteaming for a new action comedy. Before Stewart made it big in the Twilight series and Eisenberg scored an Oscar nomination for his lead role in The Social Network, the two played lovers in the 2009 independent film about staff at an amusement park, and now the two actors are reuniting for American Ultra, an action comedy from Nima Nourizadeh, who directed last year's (12) surprise hit comedy Project X.
The film centres on Eisenberg's stoner character and his girlfriend, played by Stewart, and the adventures that ensue after he becomes the target of a government operation.
“My dick is going to get so wet tonight ” declares Costa the foul-mouthed ringleader of a trio of sex-starved teens in the opening moments of Project X the new “found-footage” comedy from director Nima Nourizadeh and producer Todd Phillips (The Hangover). Believe it or not this qualifies as one of his more charming moments in the film. All of 17 but blessed with an obnoxiousness lesser men would take decades to cultivate Costa (Oliver Cooper) is the perfect mascot for a film that makes no bones of its mostly prurient intentions proffering what is essentially a succession of debaucherous montages intermingled with uneven attempts at comedy and held together by the slimmest pretense of a plot.
Caustic as he is Costa at least exhibits something of a recognizable personality; the same cannot be said of his two cohorts the tubby dweeb J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown) and the earnest blank Thomas (Thomas Mann). None of them seem to enjoy much in the way of popularity at their high school located in the fictional suburb of North Pasadena but Costa has a plan to fix that. On the occasion of his 17th birthday Thomas whose parents have conveniently departed for the weekend reluctantly agrees to host a party that Costa promises will be a “game-changer” for their lowly social status.
Hardly a game-changer is Project X’s script co-written by Matt Drake and Michael Bacall which mostly treads a predictable teen-comedy path. At its outset the party appears to be a bust. Soon however hordes of eager revelers descend upon Thomas’ house and the event swiftly devolves into a festival of wanton hedonism that would impress Charlie Sheen. The orgy of booze drugs and sex is captured by Nourizadeh in one impressively slick sequence after another set to a vibrant soundtrack.
To maintain the guise of an actual movie – and to occupy us between shots of topless beauties downing tequila and frolicking in the pool – Project X tosses in a few familiar tropes to push its story along: an unstable drug-dealer bent on revenge a buzzkilling neighbor seeking to end the night’s festivities prematurely a budding but hesitant attraction between Thomas and his childhood friend Kirby (Kirby Bliss Blanton). But the scenes are so hollow and contrived that you get the sense even the filmmakers don’t buy them and only added them to the film in a transparent ploy to forestall allegations of complete and utter vapidity. The efforts serve only to add a dash of the banal to the proceedings.
Project X’s natural forebears – R-rated teen comedies Superbad and American Pie – tempered their crudity and outrageousness with a surprising degree of depth and sincerity. Moreover they were actually funny. Project X is a shallow affair to be sure but a dearth of laughs is what ultimately dooms it. A belligerent little person who goes on a crotch-kicking spree after being tossed in an oven amounts to the film’s most sophisticated attempt at humor. More often it relies on recycled gags from previous films (including Phillips’ own library from Road Trip to The Hangover Part II) and Jackass-inspired mishaps.
The found-footage approach has proven to be a potent (if overused) tool in horror films but its utility in the service of comedy at least in the hands of Nourizadeh is limited. It mostly comes across as a needless gimmick good for marketing purposes but little else. Perhaps acknowledging as much Project X’s backup plan calls for an incessant raising of the stakes. As the once-innocuous gathering metastasizes into a fully-fledged riot one so dangerous that even the police dare not intervene the specter of parental disapproval gives way to the threat of incarceration and finally to the potential incineration of the entire neighborhood. The scale of the destruction is impressive – especially for such a (presumably) low-budget film – but like much of what precedes it almost entirely pointless.
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NSFW debauchery abounds in the new red-band for Project X, the Todd Phillips-produced comedy that adds a psedu-documentary twist to the teen sex comedy. If you are of appropriate age, enjoy a bawdy preview of the found-footage shenanigans:
More Project X Videos
Project X is directed by Nima Nourizadeh and stars Thomas Mann, Jonathan Brown, Oliver Cooper, and Dax Flame. It opens everywhere next Friday, March 2, 2012.
Click on the image below to check out our Project X photo gallery:
My biggest problem with the Hangover movies was that you never actually saw the crazy party they were having. Only hints of the wild night via the photo montages that cap the film. That's no fun—how am I supposed to live vicariously through the movies if they don't show me the insane debauchery?!
If you feel the same way, there is hope: Project X, a new movie from producer Todd Phillips and music video director Nima Nourizadeh. The film, starring a handful of unknown teenagers, focuses on one ridiculous night of partying that, as evidenced from the first trailer, blows up into something unexpectedly extreme. Sex, drinking, dogs in moon bounces, cars driving into pools—the mega-bash appears to have it all.
The movie is presented in a found footage style similar to Paranormal Activity, and when Vice asked Nourizadeh about the approach, he explained why it made sense:
It's a kid filming it, and other kids with their flips and their phones. We sourced every bit of footage and cut it together. We handed out cameras to our extras, made sure lots of angles were being shot. I think it's a sign of technology and our times. Kids film themselves. We've all seen shitty, pixellated footage of something interesting happening on YouTube. Kids today, that's all they watch, really.
Hang on to your red Solo cup and watch the first trailer from Project X below: