Taglines: Together, they fought the U.S. Air Force.
Graduate student Teri MacDonald (Helen Hunt) has trained a chimpanzee named Virgil to use American Sign Language. When her research grant is not renewed, she is forced to sell Virgil. Despite her being assured that Virgil will be sent to an animal sanctuary, instead he is taken to an Air Force base to be used in a top-secret research project involving platforms designed to simulate the operation of aircraft.
Airman Jimmy Garrett (Matthew Broderick) is assigned to the same chimp project; he begins to bond with Virgil and they become attached. Jimmy discovers that Virgil has been taught sign language. Jimmy informs his superior, Dr. Carroll (William Sadler), but Carroll is not interested.
Unbeknownst to Jimmy, the chimps trained on the flight simulators will be killed by radiation poisoning. Once they reach a certain level in operating the flight simulator, the chimps will be exposed to a lethal pulse of radiation in the simulator chamber to determine how long a pilot may survive after a nuclear exchange known as the second-strike scenario.
When a dead chimp is removed from the simulator, Virgil breaks away from Jimmy and escapes to the room adjacent to the vivarium. Virgil sees the dead body, returns to the vivarium, and screeches to the other caged chimps. Jimmy does not know that Virgil is communicating to the others of their impending peril.
Jimmy later becomes aware of the chimps’ fate. He searches Virgil’s file and phones Teri, who comes to the base. Concerned about his military career, Jimmy initially tells Teri that she should not have come and refuses to tell her anymore about Virgil’s fate. Later, Jimmy goes to Teri’s hotel and finds her as she is leaving. Teri tells Jimmy she is going to go to Washington to inform the National Science Foundation of the deception. Jimmy tells Teri that she does not have enough time because Virgil is scheduled to die soon.
Project X is a 1987 American science fiction-comedy-drama film produced by Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, directed by Jonathan Kaplan and starring Matthew Broderick and Helen Hunt. The plot revolves around a USAF Airman (Broderick) and a graduate student (Hunt) who are assigned to care for chimpanzees used in a secret Air Force project.
Project X (1987)
Directed by: Jonathan Kaplan
Starring: Matthew Broderick, Helen Hunt, William Sadler, Johnny Ray McGhee, Jonathan Stark, Jean Smart, Chuck Bennett, Daniel Roebuck, Duncan Wilmore, Mark Harden
Screenplay by: Stanley Weiser
Production Design by: Lawrence G. Paull
Cinematography by: Dean Cundey
Film Editing by: O. Nicholas Brown, Brent A. Schoenfeld
Costume Design by: Mary E. Vogt
Set Decoration by: Rick Simpson
Music by: James Horner
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: April 17, 1987