"Yeah girl, why don't you cut that zero ... And come watch Cool as Ice with me so I don't have to finish the rest of the dialogue myself!" Ian (Dave Franco) attempts to entice Vee (Emma Roberts) in a scene from Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's NERVE. Credit: Niko Tavernise © 2016 Lionsgate Publicity.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Miles Heizer, Colson Baker, Kimiko Glenn, Marc John Jeffries, Brian Mark, Samira Wiley and Juliette Lewis

WRITER(S): Jessica Sharzer (screenplay); Jeanne Ryan (novel on which the film is based)

DIRECTOR(S): Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman


HERE'S THE STORY: Set in New York City, Nerve begins by introducing us to Venus a.k.a. Vee (Emma Roberts), a graduating high school student from Staten Island who has gotten into a prestigious arts college ... But is too afraid to tell her mother (Juliette Lewis). Vee, like her best male friend Tommy (Miles Heizer), is a bit of a wallflower who never takes any risks. The same cannot, however, be said for Syd (Emily Meade), Vee's best friend who is an active player in Nerve. What's Nerve? It's a secret (kind of) Internet game show where players like her get dared to do a variety of stunts ranging from cute and simple to gross, potentially criminal ... Or in some cases, deadly. Thus, when Syd jokingly challenges Vee to sign up for Nerve, it's pretty much a safe bet she's not going to do it. 

But after getting embarrassed in front of her crush, Vee does just that – and not only does she sign up for Nerve, she signs up to not be a watcher, but an active player. Vee's first dare leads up to an initial meeting with Ian (Dave Franco) and her journey begins.

What awaits, however, might just change the way Nerve is played, forever ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? The audience at the 2016 MTV Fandom Awards; social media/cellphone addicted Millennials; Emma Roberts fans; Dave Franco fans; thrillseekers; reality TV junkies and people that spend hours upon hours watching YouTube videos

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who hate reality TV; people who hate Millennials; those who have seen movies like this before and found those to be better/more original.

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Nerve is essentially a cross between The Game, an updated version of The Net and a small bit of The Truman Show that is much like its target audience's generation: Energetic, impulsive ... In search of a convenient out clause when it comes to the realization that the decent idea it has may not have a practical – or in this case, plausible and satisfying – conclusion.

Nerve features what is easily the best performance of Emma Roberts' young career, as she takes her character and adds more depth to what could have easily been a standard girl in distress role. Instead of that, she makes Vee feel like a real, somewhat logical-thinking teenager who is both capable of being both nervous and repressed as well as clear-headed and practical. Franco likewise plays his role well enough in a young Tom Cruise-style fashion as do the rest of the cast to keep things moving along – Meade is particularly interesting in giving her character layers typically missing in this type of film. Nerve, however, is clearly Roberts' vehicle to drive and she does a fairly decent job of doing so. 

So why then, one might ask, isn't Nerve rated higher. Well, that answer lies in the (1) the concept of the story and (2) it's ending. Geared towards and essentially for Millennials, Nerve sprinkles in elements from a LOT of other "the game is playing the player" type-of films, be it The Game, the pre-prolificness of the Internet as we now know it Sandra Bullock The Net and other "Do what the anonymous voice says or you and everyone you love will be ruined/killed" films. There's nothing really new going on in this truth or dare minus the "truth" option flick, save for showing us once again our growing voyeuristic nature/desire to be famous for doing nothing special other than being willing to do whatever for our approval. Then again, given the fact that the film's directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman first made their mark with Catfish (first the movie and later the MTV show of the same name). The duo seems to have a bit of a penchant for exploring our nature to want to be something other than what we are ... Which is why it's a bit ironic and somewhat disappointing that Nerve feels like a hipped-up, new flashing lights-version of similar movies before. 

Add in an ending that comes together EXTREMELY conveniently for its characters to be able to do what they do and endure what they endure, and Nerve loses a bit of its momentum when it was doing a good job of building to something that didn't feel so ... mediocre, predictable and a tad corny. Nerve makes its point (if it has one) about our desire to be famous and/or be a voyeur culture well for the first 75 minutes, only to let it slightly unravel in the last 21. 

All things considered, Nerve is a classic "Well, that was better than I expected it to be" movie but not a "That was good" movie. It's a matinee for anyone paying property tax, whereas anyone who uses emoticons in place of vocabulary on a regular basis may find it thrilling. In other words, if you're over 25 and watching MTV on a regular basis and DON'T feel out of place, Nerve might a great night out for you. For those of you old enough to chaperone, it's just light watching. 

That is watch keeps Nerve from being a player for more watchers than it's likely hoping for. 



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