Jonathan Daniel Brown, Oliver Cooper, and Thomas Mann in Project XPROJECT X

In director Nima Nourizadeh's teen comedy Project X, three nerdy high-school pals in North Pasadena decide to make names for themselves by throwing a wild party, and then throw the party.

Now that we've dispensed with the plot, let me try to explain why, through almost its entire running length, this movie made me want to repeatedly plunge an ice pick through my skull.

Are mainstream movies, in general, becoming more and more stale? The question arose a couple of weeks ago when an acquaintance asked if I'd seen anything good recently. After a pause I was finally able to reply, "Uh ... Return of the King?"

"Well, of course that. Anything since then?"