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Movie Review: Project X

"Project X" is the geeky teenage guy's ultimate fantasy gone insane.

With the slimmest of premises -- clueless parents leave town for the weekend, son and two nerdy buddies unleash a 17th-birthday bash that ravages home and 'hood -- the rude comedy produced by shock director Todd Phillips ("The Hangover") doubles as a parental nightmare.

Consider: The bodacious babes come from the girls-gone-wild department, tearing off their tops at the drop of a tequila bottle. The house party itself -- kindled by a mass cellphone text that promises flowing booze along with Girls! Girls!! Girls!!! -- flames into a conflagration of "epic" proportions, jeopardizing the overinflated property values of the family's Southern California abode and the safety of its Yorkshire terrier.

Add to that those official and unofficial attendees, from students to Pasadena cops, as well as TV helicopters, an irate drug dealer with gnome issues and some envious, furious neighbors who are -- gasp! -- in their 30s, maybe ancient 40s. There's even a foul-tempered midget who gets stuffed into the oven.

Why? Because when there's that much booze chugged, spilled and upchucked, almost anything can happen. Indeed, most of it does in the frequently hysterical and outrageous "Project X," a let's-get-totally-hammered high school comedy that might make some long for the naivete of "Porky's."

Let's hope no one will try these stupid stunts at home.

For the younger set, the destruction of property and brain cells will be part of its rowdy, hard-R-rated appeal. But parents and the 30-and-above crowd will likely experience a different, and visceral, reaction: Who in the hell is going to clean up that mess and foot the bill?

If you're a more mature moviegoer who can get past all that to resurrect your horny inner teenager, you're in for guaranteed laughs, even if you may hate yourself in the morning. But you'll also have to put on your PC-blinders about the underage drinking and pill-popping, along with a couple of the c'mon-stop-it-now gay slurs.

That uneasy humor is both the point of and the problem with "Project X." The pursuit by birthday boy Thomas Kub (relative newcomer Thomas Mann) to be "cool for one night" by hosting a blowout party to end all parties taps into this generation's unquenchable desire to become the "most popular," as measured by getting the most YouTube views and the most "likes" on Facebook and having the most people retweeting your tweets. "Project X" vividly realizes the social networking zeitgeist, then shamelessly exploits it.

Debut feature director Nima Nourizadeh handily executes the YouTube-inspired, hand-held narration, infusing it with a docudrama

feel even when the screenplay by Matt Drake ("Scott Pilgrim vs. the World") and Michael Bacall slips into a too-breezy resolution at the end. And even though "X" clocks in at under the 90-minute mark, the montage of public drunkenness gets a little monotonous after a while if you're sober.

Nourizadeh is aided and abetted in getting the party started by his three leads -- played with gawky realism by Mann, Oliver Cooper (as Queens transplant Costa who thinks he's cool but isn't), and Jonathan Daniel Brown as the chubby kid who becomes the butt of jokes. Each landed the role via an open audition; Mann has the most experience, previously starring in the better "It's Kind of a Funny Story."

Together, they become this generation's boozy Three Stooges in this generation's "House Party" or "American Pie." There's just a much harder edge to it.

Blame that on the alcohol and social networking. In "Project X," there's no denying the combo makes for an explosive, albeit queasy-making, cocktail.

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