“A brutal, unapologetic comedy about the fantasy every high school kid carries around in his head about being popular and cool and beloved, Project X is an astounding, superlative movie about adolescence,” declares Miami Herald critic Rene Rodriguez.

“This is a cinematic mix tape of every conceivable teen-film staple — Rebel Without a Cause, Over the Edge, Porky’s, John Hughes‘ entire body of work — cranked up to deafening volume and given a modern spit-polish. There isn’t a single thing in Project X that isn’t derivative or borrowed. You’ve just never seen it done quite like this before.

“Every generation grows up smarter and more aware than the previous one, and many teens today have lost their innocence long before they’ve even hit puberty. Project X is a comedy about kids weaned on the Internet and video games and cable: They know too many things they probably shouldn’t know, but they can still tell right from wrong. The characters do bad, bad things, but they’re not rotten: They’re just driven by the impulsive nature and sense of indestructibility that belongs to the young, and the movie is a wish-fulfillment fantasy about adolescents giving in to every one of their impulses, consequences be damned.

“Producer Todd Phillips, who has pushed the envelope of taste and propriety throughout his career (he made Old School, The Hangover and the infamous documentary Frat House), also has a taste for the absurd, and he knows the value of a good visual gag.

Project X has a running bit of business involving [a] Yorkshire Terrier, who suffers a series of indignities as the house party begins to spiral out of control (before the first keg has run dry, the animal has already been tied to balloons and sent floating into the air). But the movie, beneath its raunchy veneer, is so noble and good-hearted that even the dog gets laid before the night is out. Twice.”