Disconnect (2012)

DisconnectThumbby Brad Nelson   1/13/14
What could possibly go wrong with spreading your personal information, and pleading for intimacy, on a medium (the internet) that caters to some of the worst aspects of human nature? Disconnect is the story of three such bad experiences.

One review I read said that these three stories are based on real-life occurrences. I haven’t been able to confirm that, but it’s a good guess that all these horror stories — and more — have taken place in one form or another.

One story is about a loner kid who is tricked by a couple prankster kids into thinking he’s talking to a hot chick on Facebook (or some form of social media). What could go wrong?

The second story is about a reporter investigating the webcam sex industry. You didn’t really believe that computers and the internet were just for storing your recipes, did you? This is a PG-13 peek inside this industry even though the movie itself is rated R.

The third story is about a couple whose identities (and credit card numbers) have been stolen. As compelling as the other two stories are, this one for sure will have you running to sign up for LifeLock.com or some similar service.

All these stories are compelling, well-acted, and well-directed from start to finish. You’ll enjoy this movie. And yet to some extent these are empty calories. We never do see very much inside the webcam sex industry, and this segment ends on a rather cheesy anti-reporter, pro-sexcam note. Never do we see the scars that surely must accumulate from such a sleazy way of life. This segment turns into little more than a light, romantic, Mrs. Robinson-type adventure.

And the identity theft segment could have gotten into some cool Mission Impossible-like stuff in terms of tracking down internet scammers and protecting yourself from them. But this story mainly stays on the level of telling us that the intimacy you seek you ought to try to find or make at home. And there’s nothing wrong with that theme, of course, But, once again, it is mostly the man’s fault. Again, a very watchable movie but one that misses some opportunity for depth and falls back on some PC cliches.

The best segment by far is the one that involves the two high school kids (or perhaps they are in junior high) who live from moment to moment setting up various pranks. Let’s be honest. If you are a guy, you were involved from time to time in some of these as well. All in good fun. Boys will be boys.

These two kids pretend to be a chick and are talking anonymously over the internet to a loner kid, Ben Boyd, played well (but stereotypically) by Jonah Bobo. I won’t spoil the movie by giving away anything. But suffice it to say that you see coming from a mile away what transpires. And, again, some of the blame for the bad stuff is stuck on the un-girlish-like non-sensitive fathers of the kids involved who just don’t have time for their kids, are too harsh with their kids, etc. So despite these horrible events, nothing is actually anyone’s fault when it comes right down to it.

And, again, although I found this movie entertaining from start to finish, there are indeed those empty calories to account for. Some of them were in the form of everyone, near the end, doing the most stupid things they could possible do in terms of either getting caught or making things worse. That was out of phase with a movie that generally was tilted toward realism.

Still, the movie generally lacks clichés, there is no obnoxious camera shaking to speak of, the editing and cinematographer are artful and unobtrusive, and all the acting is sincere and never over-the-top. This is an entertaining movie. And it may have you changing your internet habits as well. But at the end of the day, this is not a particularly memorable movie. And I think the slo-mo climax at the end was the one “stylish” bit of film making that was over the top and out of character with the rest of the movie.

Now…time to post this review on the internet…

Available in HD on Amazon Instant Video ($4.99 rent, $14.99 buy). Not available for streaming on Netflix.

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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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