Very rarely is a movie exactly what its trailer paints it out to look like, but this is fortunately one of the times where that is the case.
“Nerve” stars Emma Roberts as a high school senior (looks like she still hasn’t graduated since she was a senior in 2011’s “Scream 4”) who starts playing an online game that dares players to do real-world activities for money. Along the way she meets Dave Franco, a fellow player. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman direct.
The trailers made this out to be a fast, colorful, breezy summer movie and that is exactly what it is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously yet offers some smart social commentary, and isn’t too ludicrous but still knows how to have fun with the audience. This is just one of those movies you can sit back and enjoy and I truly had a blast with it.
The whole film felt like a mix of “Catfish” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” which makes sense as Joost and Schulman directed the original “Catfish” documentary, as well as some “Paranormal Activity” films. A lot of times, “Nerve” transitions to the view of someone’s phone which for the most part is a nice way to get a different viewpoint, even if at times it is a bit distracting and other times just aren’t plausible from the angle the character is supposedly at.
Roberts and Franco have solid chemistry, even if they’re no Gosling and Stone. Roberts is the play-it-safe shy girl and Franco does his normal Cool Guy Joe routine and the contrasts play off each other nicely. Some other cast members do turn in bad performances, especially one by Machine Gun Kelly who is just plain awkward as the film’s antagonist.
While the first half of the film is at a fun, rapid fire pace, the second act does take a noticeable step back and I know exactly when that point is. Without spoiling anything, there is one dare that is insanely intense (I was getting sweaty palms) but once that scene is over and the audience stops holding their breath the film lets out some air, too. It would’ve been a lot to ask the film to keep up at the pace it was going, but until we reach the climax it doesn’t even compare the first hour.
I really did enjoy “Nerve,” just about as much as I hoped and thought I would. It is a lot of fun, and not even in a turn-your-brain off kind of way. The film actually has some smart things to say about teenagers, their phones and what people will do to get internet famous and it is all delivered in a colorful little package. Talk about a mid-summer dream.
Critics Rating: 7/10