Social-networking sites may be bad, but at least they give suburban, middle-to-upper-class families something to chat about.
There are multiple storylines here, all concerning the usage of modern-day technology in some way or form. One story is about a father (Jason Bateman) coping with his son’s recent suicide-attempt, that may or may not have been spurred on through “cyber bullying”; an ex-cop (Frank Grillo) has some problems of his own trying to make sure that his son (Colin Ford) stays on the right track when it comes to school and his social-life, and away from those damn iPads; a married-couple (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard) are going through a rough patch in their lives when they realize that they have been the subjects of a security-fraud and know set their eyes on where the criminal may possibly be located at; and a young, 18-year-old stud (Max Theriot) who uses his body for web chats he makes money off of, gains the attention of an aspiring journalist (Andrew Riseborough) just looking for her big break into the world of media, and finds it with him, only to find out that sooner or later, eventually, emotions can screw up anything. Especially a good story.
“Oh no, NOT THE COMPUTER!!”
Those were my sarcastic feelings when I first heard of this movie, which, at first, seemed like a really bad, really obvious, made-for-TV, Lifetime movie that would get all sorts of parents in a fluster, angry and ready to take any sort of electronics away from their kids in hopes that they don’t turn out like these people do. In that regard, I shooed this movie off as if it was just a waste of my time, and heck, a waste of anybody’s time for that matter. And then, I saw the cast and automatically, my mind switched up a bit into some curiosity as I felt like, “Hey, if it’s good enough for talented peeps like Jason Bateman and Frank Grillo, it sure as hell has got to be good for me, right?!?!”
Well, the answer is yes. And as you may have predicted, it is also no. Here’s why:
The first-half or so of this movie is pretty painful to get through. Not only does every story not seem the least bit of interesting, but they’re told to us in such a way that makes us feel like all it’s going to be is teaching us a lesson about how we should long more for connection to humans around, face-to-face, rather than for connection to humans around us, computer-screen-to-computer-screen. Personally, I agree with the message here that this movie is so obviously throwing at me, however, I’d be wrong to say that I haven’t found myself on the other-end of a conversation/connection with another person that hasn’t solely been through the computer. Not saying that I was using any sites like this, or that, but a simple message or two through the good ole’ Facebook messenger, and/or text-message, is all fine and dandy, just as long as I don’t over-do it like some people I know definitely do.
That said, the movie does start off as very preachy and seems like it may just continue to be so, up until the ending when we see all of our characters learn their lesson, be on with their lives and hopefully continue to live in a way that isn’t so dependent on technology. But surprisingly, the stories start to work and sooner than later, the message actually makes a lick of a difference. It isn’t that everybody in this movie is like, “Oh, the internet’s bad. Stay away or die!!”. They’re more just like, “When it comes right down to getting to know another person, maybe the internet isn’t the best way to go about things, you know?” And that’s why the movie, despite it’s previously-known message, takes on a new meaning once it turns a new leaf and actually had me compelled to see what happened to these characters, at any given moment. Although I wouldn’t have predicted most of these stories to spiral as out of control as they did, I still didn’t fully throw them out of the realm of possibility, since there’s plenty of weird crap that you can see on the internet nowadays, and also, plenty of weird crap that occurs in daily-life that has to do with some stuff people see on the internet, or want others to see. Hell, I bet if you typed in “dude sets himself on fire”, on YouTube, you’d get thousands of videos where people just want the fame, attention and chance to be noticed by anybody out there.
It’s sort of sad, really, but it’s nothing new we don’t already know. Or at least, I hope not anyway.
But like I was saying with the stories, they all start off pretty boring as they try to find their feet in place of this story; but once their groove is found, most of them due tend to get a lot better, if mainly because the performances from everyone are so good and determined. We rarely see Jason Bateman go as full-fledged into the dramatic-territory as we see him do here and thankfully, it was a nice change of pace for the guy. I don’t think he made one single wise-crack at all throughout this whole movie, but you know what? It didn’t bother me, nor seem like he was trying too hard not to crack a smile. Same goes for the criminally underused Hope Davis who plays his wife, and shows us why if you need a sad lady around, she’s the perfect pick.
Frank Grillo also has one of the more interesting stories of the whole movie, if solely because he, his character, is so damn compelling to watch in the first place. Grillo’s character is a tough, rugged, angry and unpredictable man that isn’t necessarily bipolar, but definitely has a short fuse when it comes to getting things his way. On the outside, he seems like a total dick that nobody would ever want to be around, let alone even his own son, but once we get to find out more about him, who he is now, who he was back in the day and his past, then we start to see that there’s more damage done to this guy, than he actually inflicts on the others around him. Sure, he may be a little mean when it comes to the whole “tough love” aspect of raising his family, but in reality, all he wants to teach his kid a lesson so that he doesn’t grow up to be a poor schlub that sits around all day and wastes his life, staring at a computer-screen. Speaking of his kid, Colin Ford is pretty good at giving us a little punk-ass deuche cake that, through some interesting and slightly tense internet-chats we see him have, we realize that he’s just as damaged as the kid’s he picks on, if not worse. Hence why he’s such a bully in the first place.
After these two stories, the rest all seem like they were given less attention and complexity, but they still work, if only for, once again, the performances from the actors working in them. Andrea Riseborough, despite working with an American-accent, does a surprisingly nice job as the hotshot, up-and-coming reporter that just wants the big story to make her a household name, once and for all. The “relationship” that she sparks up with Max Theriot’s character is a well-written at first and heck, could have been its own movie, given the right time and effort, but once it begins to reach its first two or three twists, then it gets a bit overblown and ends on a cheap note. Same goes for the story of Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard’s couple, but they didn’t really have much to work with in the first place and it wasn’t until the last second where things got surprisingly, somewhat intriguing. Still, it’s easily the most boring, and poorly-written story of the four and to make matters worse, these two just don’t share much of a chemistry at all. Even if they are supposed to be upset and stand-offish with one another, they still need to have some amount of connection between the two. But nope. Instead, they seem more like the types of people that accidentally got a baby and decided that they had to get married, only to spend the rest of their days together wondering just where it all went. Yeah, I’m really reaching here, but it’s what I got to do to sell something like this.
Consensus: While not everything may work well in the message that Disconnect is trying so obviously to get across, the performances from everyone involved still make up for most of the mistakes.
7 / 10 = Rental!!