Did we really watch that many adult films last night?!?

Theatrical Release Date: 04/12/2013
Director: Henry Alex Rubin
Cast: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgård , Max Thieriot, Colin Ford, Jonah Bobo, Haley Ramm
Rated: R for sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, violence and drug use – some involving teens.
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes


Do you like my beard?

I could tell from the trailer and the plot summary on IMDb that Disconnect was going to remind me a lot of 2005’s Best Picture Oscar winner, Crash. Needless to say, that didn’t exactly excite me since I thought Crash was overrated and ham-fisted, beating viewers over the head with its message. Disconnect is a movie with a message, about technology and the digital age this time, instead of racial stereotypes tensions. It also shares the same format as Crash, a series of three vignette style stories that intersect in their own ways to show us how we’re all somehow connected to each other.

Story #1 revolves around a plucky news reporter who convinces a teenage web-cam sex show actor to tell his story in front of the cameras instead of pleasuring himself for PayPal donations. She delves deep into the sordid and illegal world of online sex shows (unfortunately, the film never explains how she ends up there in the first place) and the next thing you know, drama ensues and we are introduced to the news station’s attorney, played by Jason Bateman, who happens to be the father in Story #2. He’s too attached to his Blackberry and his email to devote any quality attention to his family, which includes his gifted, emo son who is a victim of cyber-bullying. If you’ve read anything in the news about this phenomenon lately, it doesn’t take long to see the direction that story goes. One of the bullies feels badly for the way it all plays out and pities the grieving father, particularly because he can’t bond with his own. His father is a cyber-fraud investigator and happens to be working for the couple at the center of Story #3. They’re experiencing marital troubles after the tragic loss of their baby and, to make their situation worse, his identity has been stolen and their credit cards are maxed out, due to either her chatting on a bereavement website or his online gambling problem.

Each of the stories is interesting enough but nothing about the movie is anything but predictable. As I had feared, I caught myself figuring out what was happening about five minutes before it happened. The cast is what made the film engaging (it’s an A-minus-list cast, as opposed to Crash’s A-list) but I did genuinely connect with the characters; feeling their pain and suffering, even as I patted myself on the back for having predicted it. Jason Bateman, who receives top billing, is a world away from Michael Bluth and gives a strong performance as a guilt-ridden workaholic. The rest of the ensemble cast do convincing work with the material they’re given.

At the crux of it all is that damn message, the not so subtle reminder that life is cruel to just about everyone. Disconnect is a morality tale about how very disruptive technology can be to our lives, how it keeps us disconnected from the real people in our lives as we connect to the world through our iPads and our smartphones and the evil, evil internets, and how sexting ruins lives. It’s melodramatic, slightly painful to watch and it climaxes in a slow motion montage. It reminded me of Crash. Disconnect isn’t as awful as that (and by awful, I mean smug and/or offensive), but it was too similar and too over-simplified for my taste. It didn’t hit me over the head with a hammer, but it did hit me with some sort of Nerf bat.

And I should mention that as soon as it was finished I reached for my phone and checked my texts and my Facebook, because my friends, I learned nothing new at all.

2.5 out of 5