By S. Jhoanna Robledo,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Intense, powerful film explores joys and dangers of the Web.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is intense and sometimes bleak (with some bullying), but in the end, it shows how adults are struggling to understand and help teens who are disaffected and disenchanted and attempting to make connections online -- and those who may be looking for a way to communicate their feelings by way of the Web, too.
Positive Role Models
Characters are flawed but have good intentions, including a father who wants to make sense of his son's deep sadness, an ex-cop who wants to help a couple, a husband seeking justice, a wife searching for support after a tragedy, and many more. Know, though, that there are bullies in the film, too, and though they may see the error of their ways at some point, they're pretty cruel.
Violence & Scariness
A man vows to seek revenge after his and his wife's identities are stolen, which leads to a confrontation with a gun; two boys mess with a classmate online and make fun of him; a character is found hanging from the ceiling; two men start beating each other up in the wake of a tragedy.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teens send racy pictures of each other via text and email; in one, an underwear-clad woman's lower torso is shown. A scene shows online sex workers talking to their clients while wearing very little clothing (bare breasts are visible); an adult flirts with a teenager.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Frequent use of everything from "f--k" and "s--t" to "damn," "ass," and "bitch," used both by kids and adults.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Plenty of labels/logos are seen and shown, including Apple, Dell, iPad, Facebook, Sony, Adidas, MasterCard, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some scenes show adults drinking; an adult smokes pot with a teenager.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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).
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
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?
Talk to your kids about smart online behavior and safety. How can bullying (both online and off) be prevented?
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
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- 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 17, 2023
Inclusion information powered by
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate