A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Disconnect is a sobering and compelling drama that shows both adults and teens trying to find a way to express themselves -- and connect with each other -- online. Sometimes, it's for fun, but often, it's because they're lonely and sad and are looking for support. And other times, it's to hurt, bully, or belittle others, which can have very serious consequences. The Internet is also presented as a vehicle for exploiting young people, who may be trading their bodies for money. Expect scenes in which teens are baring body parts, either via webcam or pictures, and online sex workers are shown bare-breasted. There's also some frank talk about sexual acts, a confrontation with a gun, images of a suicide victim, and some drinking, pot smoking (an adult smokes with a teen), and swearing ("bitch," "s--t," "f--k," and more).
What's the story?
The many interconnected lives in this ensemble drama rotate around one powerful force: the Internet. TV reporter Nina (Andrea Riseborough) chances upon an adult website featuring seemingly underage teens and decides it will be her big story. But how will it affect her subject, Kyle (Max Thieriot), who may want out of his pay-for-Web-sex existence but hasn't yet tallied the price? A 15-year-old (Jonah Bobo) thinks he's made a friend online and tweets a fateful photo, one that sinks him into a nightmare that he and his father (Jason Bateman), mother (Hope Davis), and sister can't escape. His tormentor, Jason (Colin Ford), feels trapped, too, most times by his ex-cop father (Frank Grillo), who's hired by a couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton) whose identity has been stolen.
Is it any good?
Like many ensemble dramas, DISCONNECT can sometimes feel crowded, its plotlines vying for attention. But bear with it, and try not to, well, disconnect. The film is simultaneously bleak and disturbing and thoroughly captivating, offering an incisive look at lives lived online -- sometimes disconsolately, other times dangerously, and even disastrously.
What makes Disconnect work, despite its flaws, is its stunning cast; to a person, everyone brings it. The performances are strong and authentic to the point that it's discomfiting for the audience. It's refreshing to see Bateman take on a role of substance and to have Skarsgaard play against beautiful type. Riseborough is a revelation, and Thieriot and Bobo will break your heart. Even fashion designer Marc Jacobs rises to the occasion in the role of a pimp. The way the stories wend in and out of each other will require some suspension of disbelief, but the characters' loneliness, deep sadness, and yearning for kinship feels altogether real.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the role that the Internet plays both in Disconnect and in their lives. Is it mostly positive or negative? Or both?
Does the film address the main concerns about the Internet in a realistic and approachable manner? Does it also depict the benefits/upside of the media?
- In theaters: April 12, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: September 17, 2013
- Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Jason Bateman, Paula Patton
- Director: Henry Alex Rubin
- Studio: LD Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, some graphic nudity, language, violence and drug use - some involving teens
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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