Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Only now does it occur to me... PROJECT X

Only now does it occur to me...  that even the presence of two legendary character actors known for playing some of the best assholes of the 80s can't save PROJECT X from the inwardly collapsing force of its own Lite Spielberg schmaltzitude.

The first character actor in question is Jonathan Stark, whose turn as Chris Sarandon's bullying sidekick in FRIGHT NIGHT cemented his status as one of the premiere dicks of the 80s.

Here, he's not all that villainous, per sé, but he's got this high-school bully expression plastered on his face at all times,

one that almost insinuates you're playing right into his hands with every word you say; as if the existence of everyone around him is merely an amusing set-up to a punchline he will eventually deliver.

He also gets bonus points for at one point winking and giving the air gun/'chk-chk' of approval to a chimpanzee.


The second is William Sadler (DIE HARD 2, HARD TO KILL, BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY) who is very disapproving of Matthew Broderick
 
and generally plays the stereotype of the unfeeling 80s scientist who would rather chase a chimp with a cattle prod than let Helen Hunt snuggle it out and teach it sign language.

William Sadler: over it.

And yeah, that's where the main issue is: this movie is not really about 80s bullies or evil scientists, it's more of a (well-intentioned) pro-animal rights fusion of E.T. and TOP GUN, but with little of the kitsch value that would imply.  I didn't hate it, but even these character actor favorites and an opening song called "Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel couldn't penetrate the self-serious attitude.  Perhaps I'd feel differently if I'd seen this as a kid and not waited till 2014?  Still: nice work, Sadler & Stark!

3 comments:

Mike B. said...

This came out in 1987, so I would have been around ten years old, which is also precisely the age as a kid where you think EVERY movie is awesome and you'll see it without a second thought. And yet, somehow I never did. In the years since, I occasionally think about seeing it due to it being a kind of odd story for a major Hollywood flick, and a general fondness for all things 80's, but just couldn't ever bring myself to actually watch it. Basically, what I'm saying is thanks for confirming that my many-years long refusal to see this movie has probably been the right move! Carry on!

Sean Gill said...

Mike,

Yeah, somehow I dodged this one the first time around, and I can't really recommend it. It just needed an extra "push" from some angle or another– if it were a little funnier, or a little trashier, or a little more action-ey, maybe it'd be worth it. But as it stands, it's pretty blah.

John Guedes said...

I remember seeing this in the theater when I was 8 or 9 and aside from the freaky chimp deaths, it was pretty forgettable. Interesting to see Stark in there, although it's clearly not goofy, HOUSE 2 level Stark. Too bad there was never a Sadler & Stark buddy cop movie...