Motion Picture Rating: PG-13
Release Date: 2016
Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman
Production Co.: Allison Shearmur Productions
Runtime: 96 mins.
***Please note: this review contains spoilers for both the film and the novel Nerve. If you have not yet read or watched it and do not want anything spoiled for you, please come back to this review later!***
Let’s be honest—who really knew about Nerve before the movie came out? I had never heard of it until watching the trailer 3 years ago and doing some research. I decided, as always, to wait for the film until reading the book. Unfortunately, I was never truly that invested in reading the book. Reviews were mixed, as were my initial feelings. So, once I started listening to audiobooks, I knew Nerve would be one I would probably listen to for free via the ODL rather than actually hunting down a physical copy.
After listening to it, I was…semi-impressed? Not really. If you read my review, you’ll know I thought it was meh. I was excited to see how it translated onto the screen.
Vee is not the adventures type… Her best friend Syd, however, can pretty much do anything—and does. When Syd suggests Vee do something wild and dangerous, Vee surprises her and does just that: she becomes a player in Nerve, a game where you complete dares for prizes. Seems easy enough—especially backed by her deliciously hot partner Ian—until…it’s not. As their popularity increases and the dares get more insane, Vee realizes maybe Nerve is less of ‘just a game’ than she thought.
I quickly realized the film Nerve was a loose adaptation of the novel. The premise was the same—a new game called Nerve where you complete dares to win prizes—and the characters were (more or less) the same. For instance, Vee is a photographer, not a makeup artist. She also has a sad, overly attached mother and a dead brother, giving her a very different backstory from the book. Tommy does help her with her first dare, but after that he’s actually extremely helpful and not a total dickwad like in the novel. Little things like that. Slight changes to the characters, but mostly, they remained the same.
After that, the story is totally different. The dares are different. The dares are decided differently. The story moves in a different direction than the novel and has a very different ending. It’s basically a different story, and I liked that. The dares in the film were more aligned with what I expected from the book and were translated well onto the screen. The whole idea of the novel is better seen than described. Honestly, it made it easier to imagine actually happening. We’re truly not far off from something like this… Some may think that’s a stretch (my girlfriend…….), but come on. We already have live game shows on our phones (HQ Trivia and HQ Words, anyone?) that, when it first came out, literally disrupted our lives. Bosses were stopping meetings to play, teachers pausing class… It’s crazy, but it can happen. We’re all so obsessed with our public selves (social media like Snapchat and Insta), that combining the two and creating a dare-like game for prizes could totally (and will probably) happen. Just sayin’.
Anywho. The story improved in the film, and so did the characters. Emma Roberts makes Vee likeable, which is such a feat I was beyond impressed.
I couldn’t really stand Vee in the book, but she was much more bearable in the film. And Dave Franco as Ian…
Let’s be real, I mainly watched the film for him, anyway. He is f i n e. Franco and Roberts had great chemistry. The film was a lot of fun starting out with all the frivolous dares the two completed. I really enjoyed it. And don’t even get me started on Tommy. Miles Heizer (whom I love in 13 Reasons Why) made Tommy likable, too!
I mean, so did his role change, but still, I love Heizer. He is a lot cuter than the book-Tommy I pictured in my head.
Throughout the film, I was trying to see if it was headed towards the same ending as the book. It was, for the most part, and did it much more concisely than the book. The book’s ending was rushed and sloppy and overall not good. The film’s was more climactic and made more sense.
What I’m trying to say is, the book is actually not better than the movie. Do yourself a favor and skip the book. Just watch the movie. You are not missing anything, I promise. It is so rare I prefer the movie over the book, so believe me when I say it.