No one’s more surprised than I am that I liked this movie. It received mixed reviews and I’m normally allergic to anything young adult, but for some reason, I enjoyed this movie. I’m assuming it’s because I’m much younger and hipper than my driver’s license would have you believe. Sure I don’t take selfies or speak emoji or know what “on fleek” means. I don’t constantly change my Instagram picture because I don’t have Instagram on my “new” (a year old) phone and I forgot my password anyway. I don’t bicycle ironically or wear nonprescription glasses or use a “lip kit.” I’m not saying I’m 17. But maybe a mature 21?
Nerve is about cool young kids who no doubt do all of the above. Emma Roberts plays Vee, the wallflower of her group of friends until she’s suddenly motivated to be bold, and signs up to play a new online game called Nerve.
The movie seems a little prescient now that Pokemon Go has swept the world off its feet. Nerve, however, is a little more intense than chasing Pikachu around a park. It basically consists of players and watchers. Players are fed increasingly difficult dares by popular vote of the watchers. The dares are good for cash, but ultimately it’s the number of watchers you attract, and your willingness\ability to hang in the game in the face of ever-escalating dares. Every dare has to be recorded live on your phone, and people anonymously peep. Vee’s first dare is to kiss a stranger for 5 seconds, and she does. It’s heart-pounding fun, exhilarating for a normally shy young woman. She’s proven her point: she’s not so boring after all. She’s ready to go home except the stranger she kissed is Ian (Dave Franco) and it turns out he’s playing too. Attracted and intrigued, they stick together long enough for the watchers to think of them as a couple and to start doubling up on their dares.
As you might have guessed, Nerve gets out of hand. How could daring teenagers to do stupid shit for money ever go wrong? And the movie takes some wrong turns too. The themes quickly become a little too on-the-nose. Teenagers are sheep. People do cruel things while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. Culturally we have become accustomed to witnessing the world through the filter of our phones. When shit goes down, half the bystanders will be taping, but how many will intervene?
Stylistically though, this movie is kind of beautiful. It looks sharp. And the pacing is excellent. The directors do a good job of pulling us into the action and the thrills are in fact thrilling, doled out at decent intervals. And I quite liked the soundtrack, although I have no idea who any of the artists are. The characters, unfortunately, are not quite on fleek. They’re pretty reliant on some very broad stereotypes: nerd\slut\dreamboat\jock\hacker\ wallflower.
The movie also suffers when it asks us to take one giant suspension of disbelief. The game is played on your phone. Players are constantly recording. BUT NOBODY’S PHONE EVER DIES. I call bullshit. I also don’t want to be around the morning after when everybody’s parents are hit with INSANE roaming bills.
But Nerve is a cool concept for a film and well-executed. It’s meant for a younger demographic but I think you fuddy-duddies will manage to decode its youth-speak. Just remember that by the time you finish reading this post, “on fleek” will be old news. “Snatched” is the new “fleek.” As in: Dave Franco, your short-sleeved dress shirt and skinny tie combo is SNATCHED. And if you really mean it, you add “boots” to the end, for emphasis. As in: Emma Roberts, your Wu-Tang rap skillz is dope BOOTS. And if you super duper admire something, you say “Goals AF” (AF = as fuck). As in: Dave Franco hanging over New York City on one arm? GOALS AF. “Stan” is the new word for superfan. I’m assuming it comes from Eminem’s song Stan about his crazed letter-writing fan, but since that song is roughly the same age as the characters in this movie, I could be wrong. You could call me a Stan if I’m geeking out about how much I love Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, or you could say I’m stanning on her. And finally, you need to know about OTP. OTP is One True Pairing, as in, the couple you’re super emotionally invested in and would be devastated to learn they broke up. Like Jim & Pam. Or Pacey & Joey. Monica & Chandler. Luke & Lorelai. Zack & Kelly. Goddamn I’m old AF.
Anyway. The take away here is that this is not a terrible movie. It’s superficial but fun, a perfect Netflix and chill opportunity (technically I think if a guy asks you to Netflix and chill, he’s not planning on watching any movie, but let’s take this one at face value for now). And also feel you should remember that I am young and cool and snatched or something. You can take notes, but do not get caught reading them by anyone born 1990 or later. You’ll thank me someday. Boots.
Let us know who you’re stanning on these days, and who your OTP is.