Disconnected (2017)

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Disconnected (2017) Movie Poster Image
Coming-of-age drama with a twist; some language, drinking.
  • PG-13
  • 2017
  • 96 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family relationships can be complicated and hurtful, but it's possible to make things better. Unexpected events may have an upside. Values promoted: open communication, establishing boundaries, being receptive to change. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young hero, who is rebellious and feeling victimized, takes a journey that inspires maturity, empathy, and responsibility. Though parents are portrayed as caring, loyal, and loving, they make mistakes, as well. Their journey, too, inspires empathy and an ability to strengthen family bonds. Ethnic diversity in small roles.

Violence
Sex

Teens briefly refer to sexuality in conversation. A vibrator is discovered in a drawer.

Language

Occasional swearing: "ass," "s--t," "bitch," "damn." A teen pees at the side of the road several times. 

Consumerism

Big Red soda, Tesla automobile, Ocean View Board Sports.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters, including one underage teen, drink wine in social settings. Smoking marijuana is discussed; one joint and some dried leaves are briefly shown. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disconnected starts out as a story of rebellious teen hijinks, and then takes a serious turn into a thoughtful look at parenting, teen vulnerability, and ever-changing family dynamics. Sean Crawford, feeling smothered by his "helicopter" adoptive parents, "borrows" his dad's Tesla while his folks are away, even though he's not 16 and has no driver's license. A little scared, but buoyed by his daring, he takes a road trip to meet Chloe, a girl he's become smitten with in an online relationship. Sean's voice-over narration helps convey the extraordinary emotions he must confront when the trip veers into unexpected territory, and Chloe isn't exactly what she seems. Occasional swearing ("ass," "s--t," "damn," "bitch") is heard, and Sean urinates at several roadside stops. There's some drinking in social settings; an underage teen consumes a bit of wine. Adult characters are revealed to be users of marijuana, though no on-camera smoking occurs. A few mild sexual references are made; a vibrator is discovered in a drawer. Young teens will likely appreciate this story, relate to its characters, and, along with the likeable hero, be surprised by the twists in the road.

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What's the story?

It seems like just another day in the life of Sean Crawford (Bridger Zadina) in DISCONNECTED. His loving and responsible but micromanaging adoptive parents, Lisa and Robert (Olivia d'Abo and C. Thomas Howell), have grounded him, are disappointed in him, and are off for the weekend to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Angry and feeling sorry for himself, Sean's in the mood for a little rebellion. He's been involved in an intriguing online relationship with a girl -- Chloe Morgan (Darya Hope) -- and because she lives hours north of his home, they've never met. What if Sean were to take his dad's sparkling Tesla and drive up the California coast to meet her? So what if Sean doesn't have his license yet? He knows how to drive. Chloe is overjoyed at the prospect. Other than a slightly unsettling confrontation with a motel owner while Sean is charging the car, the ride is uneventful. But the meeting with Chloe takes him into unexpected, unexplored territory. And when Lisa and Robert are called and told that the Tesla has been spotted in Northern California, Sean, who initially set out on a carefree odyssey, is unprepared for the complications that follow. 

Is it any good?

A winning performance by young Bridger Zadina, some heartfelt moments, and an original take on the traditional coming-of-age drama should engage teens and provide for some thoughtful reflection. While the performances are uneven, writer-director Anastazja Davis has made a substantive movie with some lovely visuals, interesting directorial choices, and enough humor to leaven the seriousness of her story. In what appears, at first, to be another rebellious teen wreaking havoc while his parents are away (i.e., Ferris Bueller and Risky Business), Disconnected takes Sean Crawford on an unexpected journey. The voice-over commentary he contributes -- both funny and poignant -- gives context and intimacy to his plight. The film's exploration of parenting and the importance of honest communication make this a solid movie for family viewing, especially with young teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the use of voice-over narration in Disconnected. What, if anything, does it add to enrich your experience of this movie?

  • Was the writer-director successful in her efforts to provide humor along with the serious themes of this film? In what ways did the comic moments help bring the characters to life?

  • What did you learn about different methods of parenting in this movie? While neither set of parents was perfect, did all of them have good intentions? What goals did the parenting teams have in common? 

Movie details

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