A Glitch in the Matrix

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
A Glitch in the Matrix Movie Poster Image
Mature, muddled docu about possible "artificial reality."
  • NR
  • 2021
  • 108 minutes

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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

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.).

Sex
Language

Two uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," "crap."

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach February 18, 2021

Good documentary

I watched this documentary and it was pretty interesting and thought provoking. It’s about how we could be living in a simulation or “the matrix”. I recommend t... Continue reading

What's the story?

In A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX, filmmaker Rodney Ascher explores the so-called "Simulation Theory," which argues that our entire reality is not actually real, and is possibly more like a video game -- or the movie The Matrix. The film begins with a 1977 lecture by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, who began thinking about the idea after an experience with anesthetic and started incorporating it into his novels. Several believers (who appear as digital avatars) are interviewed, and then the movie tells the harrowing story of a rabid Matrix fan, Joshua Cooke, whose conviction that he was living in a simulation led to a horrific act.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in A Glitch in the Matrix. How are the murders presented? Are they any less shocking because they're being described at a remove/from a distance?

  • How is drinking depicted in the movie? Is drinking glamorized? Were there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • Whether or not you agree with the movie's theories, what do you think might the advantages be of living in a simulated world? The disadvantages?

  • Is it a documentary's job to persuade viewers with its argument? If so, how well does this one do that job?

Movie details

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