It’s one of those “Crash”-type deals about a bunch of seemingly unrelated characters whose lives gradually intertwine as the movie progresses. “Crash” went overboard in telling us how racism is wrong; “Disconnect” goes out of its way to tell us technology is pulling us apart. Both movies take obvious arguments and structure loose stories around them, and naturally both movies are as trite and contrived as you’d think.
“Disconnect” follows three separate groups of people as they struggle to stay connected to each other. Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgård are a couple who reignite their passion for one another after their identities are stolen. Riseborough is a TV reporter doing a story on a teenage kid turning tricks on an adults-only site. Jason Bateman is a dad struggling to connect with his son, who is being cyber-bullied by another kid who feels emotionally detached from his own dad (Frank Grillo).
The problem with “Disconnect” is that, in its efforts to make all of the story lines converge, screenwriter Andrew Stern piles on the contrivances to get the movie from Point A to B. Not for one minute do we believe Grillo’s son would strike up an online chat (using an alias) with Bateman, nor do we buy any of the revelations that transpire in the reporter/sex scandal thread. It’s also not much of a revelation to learn that people are not always who they say they are on the Internet.
Despite the movie’s many, many faults, “Disconnect” is persuasively acted, full of fine work from Bateman (in a rare dramatic turn), Grillo and Max Thieriot (as the kid on the sex site). It also has the grim, ethereal look of one of those popular late-night dramas on A&E, which is probably where it should have ended up in the first place. At least that way, we’d have the ability to change the channel when the contrivances get to be too much.
★★ out of ★★★★
Rated R for raw language, sexual content, nudity, violence and drug use. 115 minutes, 2013.
Director: Henry Alex-Rubin. Starring: Jason Bateman, Andrea Riseborough.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at AFistfulofPopcorn.com!