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71 of 82 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't it seem like everyone is wired these days? Doesn't anyone talk face-to-face anymore? This recent trend has permeated everything we do; if you don't believe me, take a look: LOL; BFF; OMG; W8; BTW; BYOB (kidding...); FYI; ETA; ASAP; RSVP (well, okay... not EVERYTHING is recent)....

With this in mind, brace yourself for an exciting film that addresses our digital world, with grief counseling chat rooms, cyber bullying, on-line sex, and identity theft, plus general e-mails, texting, GPS units and Facebook. It is NOT boring; there isn't a wasted scene, an unnecessary line or a plot hole left unfilled. Kudos to director Henry Alex Rubin ("Murderball" - a terrific documentary) and scriptwriter Andrew Stern ("Return to Me" - one of my favorites), for a movie about moral dilemmas and ethical quicksand that keep us engaged and involved every step of the way.

We see:
* Jason Bateman ("Identity Thief") is a successful attorney named Rich, whose adolescent son is very troubled. Dad puts it down to normal teenage angst. Bateman just gets better and better; he is extremely effective in this one!
* Hope Davis ("Real Steel") is Lydia, the mother of that same boy; she is more alarmed by their son's behavior than her husband. This actress never makes a misstep; how does she do it?
* Jonah Bobo ("Crazy, Stupid, Love") is Ben, their awkward teenage son who is the target of cyber bullying. Our hearts go out to this kid as we share his misery.
* Haley Ramm (Lots of TV) is Abby, the loyal but embarrassed sister of the dorky misfit. This young lady has developed into a terrific actress.
* Alexander Skarsgård ("True Blood") gives us Derek, a successful fellow we can relate to; however, his toddler died, his wife is grief-stricken, his marriage is on ice, and his identity has just been stolen. The whole Skarsgård family is amazing; in this film, you can't tell he's from Sweden!
* Paula Patton ("Ghost Protocol") is Cindy, Derek's grieving wife, who visits the chat room without his knowledge. With their bank accounts in limbo, it is a short, humiliating slide to living in a motel.
* Michael Nyqvist ("As It Is In Heaven") is Stephen Shoemacher, whom Cindy meets in that grief therapy chat room.
* Frank Grillo ("Warrior") is a former cop, now a cyber crime expert, hired to investigate identity theft. He's really good with computers (so's his son...). I'm keeping my eye on this actor!
* Max Thieriot ("The Family Tree") plays Kyle, the (very) handsome, (very) charming, (very) young man who makes his living via on-line porn. This former child actor has developed into an appealing capable actor! (He reminds me of a young Ryan Phillippi...and that's good!)

This involving film runs four parallel stories with no confusion, building each to a crashing climax and we never question which story we're seeing. This is a solid-gold script and the direction brings up everyone's game. There are NO clichés and that climax has to be seen to be believed.

Expect no gunshots, no vehicular mayhem, no blowie uppie stuff, no sweaty bodies, no profanity, and no drug use (well, one little scene with some pot); on the other hand, you can expect people to root for, suspense, excitement and top-notch acting. I've already pre-ordered my DVD from Amazon.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2013
"Disconnect" may be one of the most thought-provoking films to come down the pike in recent years that paints an accurate and frightening image of what life looks like now, due to our dependence on the internet, and where it might lead if people don't realize the damage that is being done. The internet is a powerful, useful tool, but the daily abuse of it is almost beyond the scope of comprehending. "Disconnect" gives us an idea about how widespread and frequent that abuse is.

There is a certain amount of irony that our world has become so much closer in the way we communicate. We can literally converse with almost anyone on the planet. I grew up during a time when pen-pal letters from school was about as "close" as I ever got to talking to someone from another country. However, the closer we have become with our communication, the larger the chasm in our connections with others.

"Disconnect" focuses on three main story-lines. The first involves, Ben Boyd, a young high school boy who is basically a loner and an outsider. It's clear that he has few, if any, friends, and he spends much of his time writing and composing music. Even his family seems to barely acknowledge him, especially his father, a successful lawyer who is always busy and even finds his son to be a bit odd as well. Two kids at his school decide to play a "prank" on him by setting up an online profile, and masquerading as a girl who is interested in Ben and his music, thus taking advantage of his vulnerable state of wanting to connect with someone. I don't think a film has ever given us a clearer or scarier depiction of the kind of damage people can do through manipulating others, especially online where you have no idea who you are talking to.

The second story-line involves young, ambitious reporter, Nina Dunham who decides to do a piece of investigative journalism about runaway teens and the jobs that many of them end up doing online in order to make money. She connects with Kyle online and disguises herself as a customer in order to establish a connection and get her story. Little does she realize the avalanche of trouble that this causes, not only for Kyle, but for herself as well.

The third story-line involves a young married couple, Derek and Cindy Hull, trying to deal with the loss of their infant son. They don't talk to each other much, and Cindy's only outlet of communication is within a chat room where she finds solace in an unknown person who listens to her anguish and pain. Suddenly, their worlds are tossed upside down when someone infiltrates their computer system and steals most of their money.

The performances in this film are all first-rate. I have not seen Jason Bateman tackle a role this deep and complex, and he is fantastic as Rich Boyd who is trying to find out what happened with his son as well as finding out who is responsible. And while his anger is obvious toward the perpetrators, he quickly finds that much of that anger is toward himself. Spending nearly every moment online and dealing with clients, he barely has time for anyone in his family, and he quickly sees what that indifference has cost him.

The movie does not depict the characters in any form of "black" or "white." Each character is complex, and we find ourselves sympathizing, to some extent, with all of them. Perhaps that is why this film is so realistic and layered, just as people are in life. We may not know the reasons for why people do the things that they do, but as the story progresses, we begin to understand the motivation.

"Disconnect" is literally a must-see film. It will force you to ask yourself how much time do you spend online every day? How often do you converse and interact with people online as opposed to face-to-face? How much time do you spend with your family as opposed to being online? And how much manipulation and cruelty is perpetrated by kids every day toward other kids that they dislike by using the power of the internet to hurt them and exploit their vulnerabilities? The internet has made it so easy to disconnect from people. People feel safer and more comfortable in front of a monitor than dealing with others or themselves. We have heard it before: information is power. And it is incredibly frightening to see just how powerful it is, and how much damage can be caused when it is abused. The scary part about this movie is that each of these abuses are small reflections of what is going on every single day around the world, and we know that they are! And still others have, themselves, been a victim of some form of the type of violations that are depicted here.

Our dependence and reliance on technology for disconnecting, and not having to deal with people face-to-face is greater than at any other time in history. And the danger is just as real and poignant as the film depicts. I hope this movie serves to "awaken " people to how they are spending their time, how much they are connecting with the people that they love in their lives, and how much they use the internet to disconnect from those same people and the problems that they choose not to face.
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32 of 40 people found the following review helpful
You really need to take a long shower after watching this one. Disconnect contains two basic messages...the Internet is certainly not your friend and you better start "connecting" with friends and family or plan on losing them. Exploitation of young adults for on-line sex sites, cyber-bullying and identity theft are the Trinity of what is essential peril of our Internet usage. Good acting and a tension filled narrative really drove this movie to a good place. Most of the characters in this you just wanted to haul off and hurt. Disconnect reminded me a lot of my reaction after seeing the 2002 movie Thirteen...dazed and scared in my ignorance of not knowing the sick reality in this big bad world of ours.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
'Disconnect' is a dynamic drama that tells different stories of people's lives, and how they are all struggling in today's world of high technology, and social media. The riveting stories become more dramatic as we follow ordinary people, and witness dangerous situations. An ex-police officer has a tough time raising a mischievous son, a lawyer cannot find any time to communicate with his own family as his cell phone takes up most of his time for work. A couple is placed in a danger zone, when personal secrets are exposed online. As the stories unfold, the movie becomes more-and-more interesting. Acting performance of Jason Bateman is excellent, along with the rest of the cast. Three dramatic stories of how today's social media affects different individuals and their lives, becomes thought-provoking as the reality hits home for all of us. It makes you think about cell phones, the internet, identity theft, and much more on modern technology. This movie reveals the pros-and-cons of modern technology, and social media. More important, it shows how lives can be affected in dangerous situations, because of the type of world we now live in. Intriguing, thrilling, and entertaining. Recommended for all those who enjoy drama, and thrillers!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
At last there is a film that places before our eyes and ears and minds the intrinsic dangers of the now ubiquitous ether cloud of substitute life/communication. The number of identity thefts, suicides, fraudulent dealings, and the accompanying waste of human brain time from the ever-present cellphone or pad or laptop has grown to appalling proportions and it just may help for the general audience to watch this film and witness how deleterious our `advanced communication' has become. Written by Andrew Stern and directed with phenomenal sensitivity and dexterity by Henry Alex Rubin (both rather newcomers on the cinema scene), this is a film that deserves wide recognition at awards time and definitely wide attendance by audiences.

Hard-working lawyer Rich Boyd (Jason Bateman), attached to his cell phone, can't find the time to communicate with his wife Lydia (Hope Davis) and son Ben (Jonah Bobo) and daughter Abby (Haley Ramm). A couple (Alexander Skarsgård and Paula Patton) is drawn into a dangerous situation while investigating the computer hacking of their complete finances when their own secrets are exposed online: they stalk a simple worker Stephen Schumacher (Michael Nyqvist) who becomes caught up in their obsession. A widowed ex-cop (Frank Grillo) struggles to raise a mischievous son Jason (Colin Ford) who with his cohort Frye (Aviad Bernstein) cyber-bullies a classmate, the haunted and taunted musician Ben. An ambitious journalist Nina Dunham (Andrea Riseborough) sees a career-making story in teen Kyle (Max Thieriot) who performs porn on an adult-only chatroom. They are strangers, neighbors and colleagues and their stories collide in this riveting dramatic thriller about ordinary people struggling to connect in today's wired world. It takes a suicide attempt to tie all of these stories together.

Every member of this cast is excellent, the pacing of the film is over the speed limit as well it should be, and the manner in which each of these seemingly disparate stories is told in overlapping fashion and finally in impressive slow motion pushes this cinematic piece into an art work with a blisteringly tough message. It is a wakeup call, hopefully not too late to change. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 13
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
"Everything you do someone out there can see." Everyone has part of their life on-line. From a young boy on a sex-cam site to a reporter trying to help him. From a struggling married couple who has their life taken or a family who has the unthinkable happen to them. Even the littlest most innocent action or a prank that goes too far can explode into something that can ruin lives. There are very few movies that come out that I think are must sees for different reasons then it just being good and fun to watch. The last movie I can think of like that would be Trust, the movie about a young girl meeting someone online who she thinks is a boy her age. This one has that type of feel. The movie will show you the power that the internet can have and how that is not always a good thing. This is a movie that has three separate story lines going on at once and all of them hold your attention and the movie grabs you and holds you until the end. This is a must see especially for parents to show their high school kids to show what a seemingly innocent prank can turn into. Overall, an important movie that needs to be seen by a bigger audience then it will get. I give it a B+.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 21, 2013
Disconnect is a movie centered on a group of people searching for human connections in today's wired world.

This movie has three distinct story lines (ala Crash or other similar movies), with some overlap between two of the main stories.

Cindy (Paula Patton) and Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) are mourning over the loss of their baby and have a troubled marriage. They have their identities stolen on the Internet

Nina (Andrea Riseborough) is an ambitious television reporterwho strikes up a webcam conversation with an 18-year-old Internet sex model (Max Thieriot) in the hopes of interviewing him for an expose on the predators who recruit teen girls and boys to become online porn performers.

Jason (Colin Ford) and Frye (Aviad Bernstein) are kids who target nerd Ben (Jonah Bobo) for an extended online prank in which they pose as a fictional girl with a Facebook crush on Ben.

All of these conflicts and relationships are initiated through the Internet. People fall in love, exploit one another, reveal their deepest secrets and even commit felonious acts -- all before there's a single face-to-face meeting. The movie does a decent job of laying out the case in each story so we can understand how all these smart people can make such dumb decisions and act in such a reckless manner while on the net.

Jason Bateman gives a good performance and Colin Ford does a good job, as Jason, the online bully who begins to feel remorse about torturing the nerdy kid.

At times, the movie meanders along without a direction and ends up with no real satisfying answers but this movie is a decent one to watch but not terribly original. To me this tries too hard to be Crash and fails to live up to that.
But this movie does give a good portrayal of the ills of modern society with their faces in their smart phones and tablets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2013
{4.5 stars}

While it doesn't have quite the scope of either '04's Crash or '06's Babel, DISCONNECT is structured along the same lines, with mutual conflicts intertwining four sets of people in very different occupations/walks of life. With so many engaging but fundamentally flawed, mediocre, or downright awful films coming out in the last few years, it completely restored my faith in today's movie-making industry.

The protagonists in DISCONNECT have one thing in common: Their lives are seriously, sometimes tragically, disrupted by online misadventures involving identity theft, cyber-bullying, and child pornography. The empathy conveyed in this film is powerful. DISCONNECT makes you wish you could just leap through the screen and beg all its unwitting players to do exactly as the title says.

Stellar performances by just about everyone, with particular kudos going to Andrea Riseborough as television reporter Nina Dunham, Max Theriot as the 18-year-old online interactive porno model who Dunham befriends and reports on, and Colin Ford and Aviad Bernstein as the two punkishly convincing cyber-bullies. The themes of guilt, reconciliation, and how we're all both oppressors and victims shine through quite clearly. While they will appeal to many tastes, the parallel endings may prove too touchy-feely for others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This movie effectively portrays situations that one can easily find one's self (like the character played by Alexander Skarsgaard, I've been ripped off twice myself in the last five years via cyber theft, so I could readily relate!) I could relate less with the cyber-bullying - frankly, we have on/off switches on our machines - if you're dealing with a person (or persons) that are less than friendly - turn the machine off! But this movie shows that it isn't quite that simple. Stories that are separate - and interconnecting at the same time!

Well done - I invite EVERYONE to watch - and hope that you never have to deal with the situations portrayed!

Recommended!
I rate "Disconnect..." Four stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before directing 'Disconnect', Henry Alex Rubin was mainly known for making TV commercials. 'Disconnect', his first feature, employs three separate stories, focusing on a theme of how the internet can 'disconnect' people (as well as ultimately 'connect' them).

The most compelling of the three stories involves cyberbullying. Jason and his friend Frye, target Ben, a socially inept fellow student, on Facebook, by pretending to be a sexy co-ed, Jessica Rhony (an anagram for 'Horny'). Ben is lured into sending them a lewd picture of himself with his pants down and the boys promptly send it to all their fellow students on Facebook.

This is how tragedies develop and 'Disconnect' cogently shows the sequence of events that leads Ben to hang himself (the oxygen deprived boy ends up in a coma). Eventually, Ben's father, Rich, an attorney, discovers that Jason is responsible for the ruse and ends up confronting the boy, along with his father, Mike, a former cop, now turned private detective.

We find out why Jason turned out to be a cyberbully as the father-son relationship is dissected. Mike is a strict martinet with his son, causing the boy to be deeply resentful of the father. But when Mike discovers Jason is responsible for the cyberbullying of Ben, he destroys the son's hard drive and physically defends him, after Rich comes over and strikes the boy with a hockey stick. Father and son will finally bond but at the expense of the truth: Rich will never get any satisfaction in seeing Jason brought to the bar of justice in juvenile court.

Less successful of the three stories, involves a go-getting TV reporter, Nina, who convinces the young chatroom stripper, Kyle, to be the subject of a TV interview. Eventually the FBI attempts to force Nina to reveal Kyle's employers. Kyle reluctantly gives her an address but somehow his group is tipped off, and they flee the location. Like Rich, Nina attempts to confront the bad guy and receives a punch in the face for her efforts. Kyle and his entourage flee and Nina learns a hard lesson that altruism with certain types of people, has its limits.

The least successful of the three stories involves a troubled married couple who recently lost a child. Cindy and Derek are victims of identity theft and employ Mike (the private detective from the cyberbullying story) to track down who stole their credit cards. Mike initially determines that their suspect is a man who Cindy was communicating with on an online chat support group. Derek goes as far as breaking into the man's house and putting a rifle to his head but Cindy receives a call from Mike, that this man was also a victim and not responsible for the thefts. Cindy is able to convince Derek, a former Marine, to stand down, and a second tragedy is thankfully averted.

Certainly, 'Disonnect' has some interesting stories to tell and holds your interest until the end. But all three stories sort of leave you hanging. I wanted a little more, perhaps with a twist. Nonetheless, the characters do have their epiphanies--especially Mike, with the self-revelation that he's been a hard ass with his son; Nina, in her quest for fame and glory that was not really worth taking and Cindy and Derek's desire to repair their marriage, only succeeding after Derek's deep-seated anger issues almost end in tragedy.

Whether the larger the film attempts to address--the issue that the internet is responsible for the alienation of modern man--that's a subject I leave to the pundits who specialize in such higher philosophically-inclined ruminations.
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