Film Review: ‘Disconnect’

Hope Davis, Jason Bateman and Haley Ramm are totally disconnected in "Disconnect." Credit: LD Entertainment
Hope Davis, Jason Bateman and Haley Ramm are totally disconnected in “Disconnect.”
Credit: LD Entertainment

‘Disconnect’
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Stars: Jason Bateman, Hope Davis
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Mediocre ensemble dramas aspirationally modeled on “Magnolia” or (worse luck) “Crash” come out quietly by the dozen every year. In them, stories of strangers living in a big city (almost inevitably Los Angeles or New York) are connected only by cameo-ing in other people’s stories. The heavy-handed title for “Disconnect” would seem to indicate the thematic link is how technology meant to bring us closer together has actually made it harder for people to relate to each other. It’s not a fresh irony, and “Disconnect” sheds no new light on the subject.

The most emotional weight is given to mute Ben Boyd (Jonah Bobo), a long-haired, music-minded loner who falls for Facebook messages from a non-existent girl. He takes a photo of himself naked and tries to hang himself when the picture’s forwarded to the whole school. One of the catfishing cyber-bullies is unremorseful, but more sensitive Jason Dixon (Colin Ford) flails in guilt.

The marquee name is Jason Bateman as Ben’s dad Rich. Bateman is uncharacteristically unshaven, a standard symbol of a dramatic change-of-pace for someone trying to shed their comic persona. An absent but caring dad, he’s mirrored against Jason’s ex-cop dad Mike (Frank Grillo), who quit the force to pursue private cyber-detective work and spend more time with his kid. Rich is absent and out-of-touch, while Mike is hyper-present and militaristically disciplinarian, incurring his son’s resentment. Other stories involve a couple whose credit cards are charged for over $7,000 and hire Mike to find the identity thief (making this, oddly, Bateman’s second appearance this year in a movie on the topic) and a local journalist who interviews a 15-year-old live webcam porn performer.

Often dull or plain silly, “Disconnect”‘s climax ill-advisedly cross-cuts between all four stories in super-slo-mo. It’s a look reminiscent of NFL films or “Melancholia,” here turning the image of Bateman wielding a hockey stick in attack unintentionally ludicrous. Technology is uniformly negative throughout, but it’s a red herring. The cyber-bullying segment is unpleasant but plausible, with two of the most realistically hateful adolescent boys in recent memory. The other stories have little to do with recent social problems rising from technology per se. The journalism story is a confused attack on sloppy journalistic ethics and equally mishandled FBI investigations, the identity theft thread is really a tract on the importance of open marital communication, and much of the remaining story frets over the equal dangers of over- and under-parenting.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Local

Body found believed to be missing Fitchburg boy…

The body of a child found off of a highway in Sterling last week is likely that of missing Fitchburg boy Jeremiah Oliver, authorities said.

Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.