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Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average: 7.14%
Pretty Crappy85.71%
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2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"Tinder Is The Night"
2 stars

If it does nothing else—and it doesn’t—at least the would-be techno-thriller “Nerve” should serve as a cautionary tale to whatever viewers it can scrounge up before disappearing from theaters about the importance of reading over the terms and conditions boilerplate of any and all software agreements for red flags hidden in the fine print. Actually, this advice can be carried over to other walks of life as well. For example, if you carefully scour the IMDb page for a movie that you are thinking of seeing—take this one, for example—and you see the names Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman in the credits, you can be pretty much assured that it, like such previous efforts as “Catfish,” the third and fourth “Paranormal Activity” movies and the current VOD disaster “Viral,” will be an aesthetic and dramatic mess filled with uninteresting characters, implausible narratives and increasingly obnoxious stylistic gambits deployed in a desperate attempt to conceal just how silly and hollow the whole thing is.

Vee (Emma Roberts) is a shy and repressed high schooler from Staten Island with the usual litany of problems—she doesn’t have the nerve to tell her mother (Juliette Lewis) that she has been accepted to CalArts, she has a dead older brother whom she can be reminded of whenever a poignant moment is needed and she has a brash best friend, Sydney (Emily Meade), whose shadow she is constantly hiding in. The extremely extroverted Sydney is now involved in a bizarre online game called “Nerve” that, on the looks of it, appears to be a cross between “Jackass” minus the common sense and “Videodrome” sans the moral and ethical underpinnings. Self-described as “Truth or dare without the dare,” it challenges participants to a series of dares which they are asked to film themselves doing for the vast audiences of viewers paying $20 a night to watch—as the danger level increases, so does the monetary reward. Now you might think that such a game would hardly go unnoticed, especially when it seems as if the streets are teeming with players and watchers alike but the shadowy group behind it all manages to keep a lid on it by enacting a strict “snitches get stitches” policy that apparently holds up. Of course, one might question how secret it can be when the finale is in a lot with “NERVE” spelled out in giant neon letters for all to see but hey, maybe New York just is not much of a media town.

Anyway, Vee impulsively decides to become a player and is off to perform her first dare—kiss a stranger for five minutes. The lucky guy turns out to be Ian (Dave Franco) and when he follows that up by inflicting a terrible rendition of a Roy Orbison song on the patrons of a diner, it turns out that he is a player as well. Since the people watching seems to like the two of them together, they are told to pair up and head into the city proper for their next dare. This kicks off a series of hijinks that include having to escape from Bergdorf Goodman in nothing but their underwear, getting a motorcycle up to 60 mph while blindfolded and other such wackiness. It all seems like fun for a while but, in a terrible shock, the game turns out to have a dark side. Sydney becomes jealous of Vee’s success and ends up doing a dare with potentially tragic results. Meanwhile, it turns out that Ian may not be just the simple grinning idiot that he appears to be—there appears to be a connection between him and the crazy Mad Max-wannabe contestant (Machine Gun Kelly) who is their main competitor for the top prize. When it all becomes too much for Vee, she discovers to her horror that getting out of the game is not as getting in and that attempting to escape could lead to catastrophe for her and her mother. Good thing for the creators of “Nerve” that they have created something so foolproof and rock-solid that nothing—not even the combined efforts of a high-school girl, her two best friends and Dave Franco—could possibly bring the whole thing crashing down.

As anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to the Pokemon Go fad that has swept the world in the last few weeks, the notion of an Internet-based game that has players taking to the streets is not outside of the realm of possibility. The problem with “Nerve” is that nothing about the game itself is believable—not how it is run, not how it is paid for and not how it has somehow managed to spread across the entire country without people noticing a spike in young people filming themselves racing through the streets in masks or dangling from things. Now I am not saying that all of this has to make sense but in a film like David Fincher’s underrated “The Game,” which “Nerve” borrows liberally from, it at least tried to cement its increasingly bizarre goings-on in some kind of reality that did help to ratchet up the tension because there was an underlying logic to it, even if it only emerged on subsequent viewings. Here, since we are deprived of that grounding element, all we are left with is the sight of dumb people doing dumb things on the orders of people whose makeup and motivation is decidedly murky while the rest of the film strains to appear as hip and current as possible. (In other words, the entire film is going to seem hilariously out of date in a year or two.) Speaking of murky, the whole last third of the film, in which Vee tries to outwit the people behind the game and emerge unscathed is such a mess that I defy anyone to explain to me exactly what is going on there.

As characters who are willing to put themselves in jeopardy in the pursuit of fame and money, both Roberts and Franco are stuck playing people who essentially have bacon bits for brains (the latter being more successful at that task) and whatever their efforts, it is impossible to really sympathize or root for them because it is hard to get behind people who seem to be competing to see who can take home a Darwin Award first. Frankly, while I was supposed to be concerned about the risky behavior they were engaging in at the behest of their online overlords, I was more concerned about the other risky behavior on display. As I said, Vee is supposed to be a high school senior and while Ian’s age is never specified, his character is clearly several years older than her. Now I am not a prude by any means but the sight of a high-school girl running around in her underwear and whatnot with a guy several years her senior just struck me as being slightly off-putting. Of course, neither Emma Roberts nor Emily Meade look remotely like high schoolers—Roberts is 25 and Meade is 27—but still, it is an angle that just adds a bit of a bad taste to an otherwise bland cinematic stew.

“Nerve” is a film about the perils of the digital age that seems to have been created by and for people who consider flip phones to be the height of technology. There might have once been a kernel of an intriguing idea here but it has been developed in a manner so silly and formulaic that even the most undemanding big screen adrenaline junkies are going to find themselves bored by the nonsense unfolding before them. Unless you have been waiting your entire life to see a movie in which Dave Franco discusses Virginia Wolff and dangles from a crane—not at the same time, alas—“Nerve” is a film that will have you swiping left practically from the get-go.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=30291&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/27/16 12:42:53
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User Comments

11/04/16 David Hollingsworth A passable but cliched take on social media. 3 stars
9/01/16 Angel Baby Araiza I loved this movies all the twist and turns not knowing who she could trust. would watch ag 5 stars
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  27-Jul-2016 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2016


  DVD: 25-Oct-2016

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