Hello, my friends and lovers.
Yes, tis I, The Frog. I have returned for another bout, another reckoning with the art of cinema.
Are ye prepared? You shouldst be. Verily.
Okay, that’s enough of the wordplay. On to this week’s review!
What did I engage my ocular nerves with this fine past week?
Why, NERVE of course.
I’m not gonna lie, my lovely readers, I went into this looking for blood. I wanted a SUICIDE SQUAD style uber-rant for the ages. I mean, LOOK at this fucking poster. How Neon-soaked can they get?
Holy shit. This thing looks like Drive overdosed on Drive after doing two speedballs composed of Drive , Drive, Drive and Drive.
Anyhow, moving swiftly along.
NERVE is a teen thriller based on a YA novel that the internet tells me it differs from on a a few aspects, including the ending.
But I have a teensie eetsie beetsie confession to make.
I kinda liked this film.
Yes, I know you did. Trust me, I wanted to give it to you. And there will be SOME blood. Some cuts’n’bruises. A light speckle. But… honestly, this film’s pretty good craic for the most part.
Alright, hear me out.
So, basically, NERVE is what happens WHEN POKEMON GO GOES BAD – a new app/game, in which you can choose to “WATCH” or “PLAY” a constantly streaming series of escalating dares performed for cold hard cash. Using their phones and their tablets and their synced-up 3D TV sets and their skateboards and their fuckin’ everything, these cool cats are only one click away from superstardom…. OR DID THEY? DUN DUN DUN.
The film focuses on Vee Delmonico, the most YA-novel-name-having YA-novel-name-haver in the history of anything. She is played by Emma Roberts, the daughter of Eric Roberts, and niece to Julia Roberts. You’ll remember Julia from that time she murdered the souls of all Irish people with her accent in Michael Collins.
And you’ll remember Eric Roberts from that time he murdered the first attempt at reviving Doctor Who.
Emma Roberts is pretty good in this movie. I was surprised. I thought she’d be a precocious awful teen. She is, in fact, very charming and affable. She makes the most of some occasionally horrendous dialogue. She sells it. I liked her. I think she’s good.
No, I’m awake! She’s good. She’s fine. Vee (short for Venus UGH) behaves like a pretty realistic and believable teenage girl throughout, except Emma Roberts is clearly 25 but eh, child labor laws aren’t what they used to be am I right Short-Round?
Emboldened by her bratty/troubled cheerleader friend (also a capable actress), Vee decides to give this NERVE thing a try and see what happens despite the fact that her Mom (Juliette Lewis, yes Juliette Lewis is playing people’s Moms now) is in a depressed funk following the motivational DEATH OF A SIBLING DING DING DING well done Nerve you’ve won the Suicide Squad award for Motivational Dead Family Shorthand. Good job.
In order to get from Staten Island to the big city, she is driven by her PAINFULLY FRIENDZONED friend, Tommy (played by Miles Heizer). Okay, let’s talk about Tommy for a second.
Tommy is the best buddy/but just a buddy character. Heizer really does a good job of selling the “unrequited love” bit without ever showboating or overdoing it or anything. He’s actually really quite good in the movie, and I secretly really empathised with him. I mean, Teenage Frog certainly would have been a “Tommy”.
That said, Tommy has some hilariously nonsensical dialogue regarding his time on “The Dark Web” and features in the prolonged climax of the film in a “Morgan Freeman Dark Knight” vibe that is utter balderdash. It suits the character to a tee, but he goes a bit HAxorNoob in a way that is just a bit cringe.
Anyhoo, Vee jets off the to city where her first dare is to kiss a boy!!! OMG!!!! ZOINKS. And who does she kiss except James Franco after 30 seconds in a microwave. Nah, I’m just kidding. It’s Dave Franco, James Franco after having been rolled in coconut flakes and nutella. Holy hell this guy handsome.
The two then jet off on adventures where they do relatively normal dare stuff, like get tattoos, drive fast on a motorcycle and all that jazz, encountering a rival evil player who has a mysterious tie to Dave Franco’s character and his shady past, and then the dares get darey-er and dangerous. Can you guess what the last dare is? Of course you fucking can.
The film is shot really fecking well – it taps completely into the current nostalgia-chic vibe going on these days that I personally am a complete sucker for. Neon lights, bokeh on a carousel, and synth-tinged ambient score make it a real treat for A E S T H E T I C wankers like myself. I fully admit all of the above may be a turn-off for some (likely many), but I really just love films that look saturated like this one does.
It also has a crackin’ soundtrack that has gotten me several new bands to explore, and any film that does that gets major props from me.
Sure, the thing goes off the rails at the end a bit. Maybe totally off the rails. The idea of “adults just don’t get us teens” doesn’t exactly extend to secret gladiatorial combat arenas in my book but it gets the central message of the film across to it’s intended audience and to be honest, I respect it for doing that in a way that is engrossing and seems to have something to actually say about current social media trends, today’s teenagers, and oppressive omnipresent gadgetry, without talking down to it’s teen audience them too much.
If I were 15 I’d probably really like NERVE.
As I am merely (REDACTED) Frog-years old, I’ll just say that I thought it was enjoyable. It features charming leads, a great look, it zips along at a nice pace, it features some great tunes, and it has a bit of fun without forgetting what it’s about.
It was a good (not great) way to pass the time.
Though, it would have passed in any case.
But not quite so Neon-y.