Nerve (PG-13)

Nerve, starring Emma Roberts as Vee and Dave Franco as Ian, is a modern-day teen thriller about one big game of Truth-or-Dare, minus the truth, played on line, hopped up on steroids, that gets all too real for a high school senior.  After doing absolutely zero homework about this game, Vee decides to participate in order to add some spice to her otherwise ho-hum existence and prove that she is not “boring” to a friend.  She soon finds out she’s made a huge mistake as throughout the course of this game the stakes get higher and higher as the “dares” of the game become increasingly dangerous.

If you’re looking for thrills and suspense, you will find some here, but it isn’t super intense, or at least I didn’t think so. There are adrenaline inducing stunts that will have you on the edge of your seat, but the film is almost light-hearted with quite a few more laughs than one might expect.  Nerve could have gone much darker but I like that it didn’t and that it kept a PG-13 rating so that the audience who will benefit most from this movie is able to at least see it and to relate to it.  Even though Nerve is a sort of “What Not to Do” guide, if you’ve ever been a teen, surely you recall how any message being “too preachy” can turn a kid off to the message entirely.  Also, to go too dark would make the premise seem more far-fetched, and thereby less relatable.

Nerve is a movie which provides many teachable moments to open up dialog between parents/guardians and pre-teens/tweens/teens about being leaders instead of followers, the imperfections of friendships and how to get past them, the dangers of getting caught up in social media, how what you put on social media can be used against you, reality vs. perception, social images and illusions, mob mentality, peer pressure and more.  I highly recommend seeing it with your children if they feel they can still be seen with you in public, that is.

This generation of American teens and all generations to follow are or will have no choice, one way or another, but to have a social media presence whether they like it or  want it, or not.  It’s hardly a choice anymore and will become less so, I’d imagine, as we go forward.  That cannot be an easy way to grow up.  When we did something embarrassing how many people found out about it?  Fifty, one hundred, two hundred – even a thousand?  How many people have access to that information now?  Or maybe even video of it.  There is no better time to have this discussion than right now.  It is necessary social media etiquette become part of our conversations with children, along with the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, as it is one of the basics in our lives now.

This movie took me back to being young (not that I’m not still young; I mean teenager young), insecure, foolish and trying to figure out who I am in the world.  It also took me back to a time when I was blissfully ignorant, arrogant and carefree.  I can only speak for myself here, but during the teenage years, many times, these times were both happening simultaneously.  We all need to remember that every once in a while so that we don’t judge younger generations too harshly.  Like, “Wow.  Yes!  I remember actually being equally stupid!”  I may not have done the same stupid thing you’re doing right now, but nonetheless, Yes.  I did some pretty dumb shit.”  I was impressed that feeling was able to be captured, until the fun stopped and it wasn’t fun anymore – and that feeling was captured as well.  That is what makes this movie good.

The integration of footage of some of the on line stunts our youth have pulled in recent years really cemented the feeling that something not so different from the plot of this movie could and may be happening in the not-too-distant future, if it isn’t happening right now and we old people just don’t know about it yet.  I would not be surprised.  What would surprise me though is if such a game could remain a secret for long because everyone is just dying to go viral and compelled to spill every part of their lives all over the internet, or so it seems.

There were problems with this film that I cannot go into without providing spoilers, so I’ll let you judge for yourself, if you should see it.  Some plot issues, some writing critiques, and even some acting critiques, but the fresh subject matter saves it.

Nerve earns 8.0 out of 10 bloops. It is an original movie that is worth seeing, particularly if you have tweens/teens.  Even if you do not have children, if you’ve ever been a teen you should get some enjoyment from Nerve.  It is a good summer movie that is definitely worth a look.

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