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Unplugging [2022] Review: A Relatable Comedy about Digital Detox that Shines Through All Odds

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During the road trip when Dan comes out of the gas station to find Jeanine trying to climb on top of their car in the hope of connecting to some mobile network, I was amused by how eerily true the situation would be if I, or anyone, were to lose my mobile network for a long time. The film, Unplugging, directed by Debra Neil-Fisher, harps on this realistic obsession with technology, particularly the cell phone, in our modern lives. It skillfully builds a narrative around this theme and takes the audience on a feel-good ride, making its 1 hour 34 minutes-long runtime feel -mostly- smooth.

We are led into the lives of Jeanine, played by Eva Longoria, and Dan, played by Matt Walsh, a couple who has a functional relationship and leads a tolerable family life with their daughter and the other omnipresent member, their technological gadgets. Jeanine is a little obsessed with her work, cell phone, and the internet. In one of the scenes, when she finds it difficult to sleep at night, she types away on her laptop to get a head start on her next day’s round of work. Dan, on the other hand, sells customized hot sauces from their garage and watches too many YouTube videos throughout the day. He opens his eyes to the sham of a life they have been living when he visits the funeral of his friend.

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To help mend the relationship with his wife, Dan proposes to take her on a relaxing road trip with the sole condition that she’d be off her phone during this trip. The idea of a digital detox is enticing, and soon both of them hit the road only to experience a series of misadventures. In the end, do they successfully understand how much technology is too much technology in their lives? A little more clarity about how the trip affected their daily life would suit this movie better, which otherwise seems to be impatient to draw the line. Perhaps it comes as a little bit of a shocker to the audience, forced down a winding road full of bizarre sub-plots featuring several ‘what-the-fork’ revelations, that the plot actually makes ends meet.

There is too much technology around Eva and Dan, just like us. Its presence is so ordinary in our lives that it only struck me when Dan says that he has made coffee cowboy style, by which he means that he has made coffee on a stove, lighting the fire with a matchstick. An electric coffee maker is the new normal. The screenplay gets right all the little details that technology has slaved us to. For example, Jeanine missed out on a shooting star in the night sky because she was too busy looking for a phone signal while Dan, who was busy soaking in the starry night, caught a glimpse of it and became as excited as a young child.

The observations about local conspiracy theories about China and aero-space drones are all convincing too. However, these realistic situations tumble into the weird scenario of petting a chicken and feeding it aspirin, which is a little difficult to come to terms with except for its comic value. For everything that doesn’t add up, the areas covered on this road trip double up as a constricting space, imbibing paranoia among the protagonists and acting as a perfect setting for the narrative to unfold.

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Longoria plays her part diligently as a technology-obsessed mom left in the wilderness without a cell phone network after learning that her daughter had to visit the hospital. Walsh, on the other hand, doesn’t nail his comic timings as well as Longoria. Even in his maddest rage when he attacks a drone, his facial expressions don’t do justice to his actions. Their on-screen chemistry is inconsistent towards the end of the film, especially, when they are engaged in a revelatory fight. Every other character, who comes and goes as they please for the lack of more conclusive sub-plots, is designed to be odd and mostly inconsequential. Among them, the character of an Uber driver turned conspiracy theory fetishist, Vicky, played by Tina Parker, has to be a personal favorite.

The movie, Unplugging, shows a glimpse of how difficult it can be to live without technology’s boons for a little while, and it isn’t too difficult to imagine ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist. The director, Neil Fischer, has focused on the timelessness of the theme, pertinent with each passing day in our lives, and goes the distance to make it as palatable with verbal banter arising out of quirky challenges as possible. It doesn’t promise too much fun, but it ensures that you have a good time throughout.

Unplugging releases in theatres on April 22, 2022, and will be available via Video On Demand on April 29, 2022


Unplugging (2022) Movie Links – IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia
Unplugging (2022) Movie Cast – Eva Longoria, Matt Walsh, Lea Thompson, Keith David, Hala Finley

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