If nothing else, Project X is the ultimate film for monkey lovers. Some quite endearing chimpanzees share center stage with Matthew Broderick for nearly two hours here, and while they, and he, are engaging enough to watch, picture lets its manipulative strings show too clearly.
Broderick plays a wayward air force pilot who, as punishment, is sent to play zookeeper at the Strategic Weapons Research Center, where intelligent chimps are trained for top secret and, it transpires, fatal experiments involving the effects of radiation.
Brightest of the little hairy ones is Virgil, an orphan who was taught sign language under a university program. When Virgil is put on the line, Broderick feels compelled to act and end the seemingly needless experiments.
Director Jonathan Kaplan keeps the proceedings [from a screen story by Stanley Weiser and Lawrence Lasker] amiable enough, and has covered the monkeys’ actions with loving care and skillful attention, which cannot have been easy. Broderick is rightly more subdued here than in some recent performances, and supporting cast is discreetly effective.