Expectations are interesting. They can ruin a movie, they can elevate a movie and they can somehow alter the result of the movie drastically. They can even make you expect something completely different, usually based on the trailer, and then disappoint you greatly during the movie itself. For once though, my expectations didn’t really change the outcome, and I actually enjoyed Nerve just as much as I expected to.
Vaguely based on a book by the same name, Nerve is about an interactive truth or dare game that really is more like a big dare. It travels from city to city, is once of a year kind of thing and is created in an app form that has a lot of servers, which means it is very difficult to shut down. The concept of Nerve itself is quite appealing for me because it reminds of The Hunger Games and to have that dystopian like element in the real world is fun. And essentially that’s exactly what Nerve is, it’s fun and it’s entertaining which is what I wanted from it.
Vee (Emma Roberts) is your typical shy girl, with a very interesting group of friends, including your typical popular girl Sydney (Emily Meade). Sydney has been a player on Nerve for a while now (I’m a little fuzzy on what the timeframe of this game is but I assume it’s days), filming herself doing all these dares like flashing a football crowd with her butt and is almost at the top. Sydney is the out there one, and when she does something that upsets her friend. Vee decides to prove herself to her by signing up as a player on Nerve and her first dare is to go kiss a stranger at this diner. That stranger she ends up kissing is Ian (Dave Franco), who turns out to be a player as well.
Now the concept of the game itself is a lot more complicated with sponsors and viewers, and everyone has their role, so it doesn’t take long for the viewers to want to see Vee and Ian together. Their chemistry, which is well delivered by Roberts and Franco, works and I would pay to see a very brave boy with a very conservative girl as well. So as their dares get more and more crazy, and they tackle them with some laughs and then with a lot of nerve, the movie entertains at every turn. I liked many of the dares, and I actually had to cover my eyes during one of them, because it was too scary! But at that moment I knew that I liked the movie a lot, because that scene delivered oh so well on so many levels!
Though most of the movie focuses on our main characters Vee and Ian, there is a bit of Sydney there as well. But as far as supporting characters go, I think Tommy (Miles Meizner), was the coolest of them all. He is your typical nerdy friend, who seems to be in love with Vee, but luckily it isn’t exploited in the movie as love but more as concern. And Heizner’s presence is always appreciated, since I miss Parenthood a lot at sometimes. And if we’re already talking about supporting characters, Vee’s mom Nancy portrayed by the lovely Julette Lewis needed more screen time! And not because of the mother character, but because Lewis deserved a lot more than she got!
Eventually though, and this might be a spoiler, after the movie hit its climax, it started to decline. And while the dare part of the movie was cool and fun, the final act of the movie fell flat next to its strong beginning and middle. The movie wanted to achieve something very noble, and I didn’t really care for it. Yes, this game was crazy, and yes, somebody died during the last one, but I just didn’t feel the need for that specific endgame. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would have prefered an open ending for the game itself, because it would have felt less safe and more in theme with the rest of the movie. With such a happy ending, Nerve subdued its affect of being exciting, thrilling and dangerous, feeling which I was fully aware of during its middle act. So for me, the ending was definitely the downfall of the movie, and a need for a less self righteous ending, with a bit of mystery, is gnawing at me right now. But at the end of the day, I got to have fun and ogle at Dave Franco.
PS: A while back I saw Casey Neistat’s vlog (unable to find it because the guy has been vlogging every day for more than a year!), where he said he was doing a cameo for a movie his friend was making – I was happily surprised to realize it to be Nerve! Which I think I should have known earlier but I’m glad I didn’t because I was more thrilled to realize it during the screening.