A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
It doesn't fully explain its theories, but the movie still gives viewers plenty to talk and think about. What would there to be gained from an artificial universe? What are the downsides?
Positive Role Models
No real role models.
Violence & Scariness
Disturbing story (spoken) about a man getting a gun and killing his parents because he believed that he was in an artificial reality. Potentially disturbing images (brains hooked up to computers, surgeries, skinless humans, etc.).
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Two uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," "crap."
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Products & Purchases
Many references to movies and video games (especially Minecraft), plus mentions of Sony and PlayStation, Coca-Cola, etc.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Story (spoken) about a night of drinking/being drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that A Glitch in the Matrix is a documentary about the theory that our reality isn't actually real, but rather some kind of artificial simulation. Expect some mature content. In a phone interview, a man describes how he murdered his parents with a gun, and there are potentially disturbing images: brains hooked up to computers, surgeries, skinless humans, etc. Someone talks about a night of friends drinking and getting drunk, and language includes a couple uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "bitch" and "crap." Many clips of other movies and video games are included, and Minecraft is discussed at length. The film goes all over the place, changing tones and never really explaining much in depth, and its shocking third-act story puts the whole thing in question. But it could still inspire interesting conversations for mature teens and adults. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This haphazard documentary is centered around Philip K. Dick's fascinating lecture and leads up to a terrifying ending, but it's mostly pop culture references and unconvincing arguments. Dick's speech is worth hearing, because he's clearly in the midst of exploring new ideas/theories, but the modern-day interviewees in A Glitch in the Matrix are far more certain. For example, Professor Nick Bostrom, who published a famous 2003 essay, "Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?," has a thoughtful and complex hypothesis. But the movie spends barely any time on it.
The main interviewees seem like nice enough people, and they all seem to be movie and video game fans. And, interestingly, most have some kind of faith-based background. They tell stories about how they started to detect patterns and coincidences that convinced them of an artificial reality. But Ascher's choice to disguise them as avatars seems like something of a joke or a tease. The documentary's constant use of movie and video game clips also suggests that it's in a slightly less than serious mood. But then it comes to its final stretch, and it's not funny anymore. That's when it addresses the story of Joshua Cooke, who was obsessed with The Matrix, believed he was living in an artificial reality, and subsequently killed his parents (he confesses that he was surprised when they didn't die like video game characters). Ultimately, A Glitch in the Matrix not only fails to convince viewers of its argument, but it doesn't really seem to know what it wants to say at all.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.