A Glitch in the Matrix Parent Guide
Unless you want to have your teenager spouting half baked philosophy, you'll want to give this one a miss.
Parent Movie Review
How real is your reality? Is everything you see and do just an elaborate computer program? Is “reality” simply electro-chemical simulation of your brain? Are we just a complex dream? The Mandela effect, deja-vu, and solipsism all come into play in this documentary by filmmaker Rodney Ascher which explores these issues through the lens of pop-culture and sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick.
I’m going to start with the content issues, because the rest of the review will consist of my rants about bad philosophy. There’s no nudity, and the only on-screen violence is in clips from other films. There are a handful of extreme profanities which are entirely unnecessary, and stories which involve drunk driving, a brutal familial multiple homicide, and reckless endangerment. If that’s not enough fun for you, there are also several sequences which involve rapidly strobing lights. (If you are prone to migraines or seizures this might be a problem for you.)
A Glitch in the Matrix’s biggest weakness is the reliability of its sources. I love Phillip K. Dick’s work, and I think he’s a fascinating guy. But he was also a man with a long history of mental illness and a serious addiction to amphetamines. Before you start taking his word for it that reality isn’t real, maybe you should remember that this is a man who became convinced that half the people he knew were secret communist agents and informed the FBI to that effect. Dick wasn’t famously stable. I also wouldn’t necessarily take philosophical advice from Elon Musk, who claimed that children were functionally immune to COVID-19 and violated local orders to open his Tesla factory. The thing about the theories espoused in this film, which detach people from reality and the belief in objective truths, is that they are a dangerous gateway for conspiracy theories. We are all now painfully aware of the damage that can result from a widespread belief in conspiracies.
I enjoy philosophy, thought experiments, and philosophical discussions. And even I wouldn’t recommend this documentary. Sure, it’s interesting. The premise is certainly something I’ve thought and read about. But here’s the thing: it’s also a complete waste of your time. There’s no way to prove any of this, and even if you could, there’s nothing you could do to change it. Reality is all we have, whether we like it or not, and the only choice we have is to treat everyone as well as we can. The cost and consequences of doing otherwise is unthinkable. So if you decide to watch this and find yourself stressing out about the nature of reality – take it from me - none of this experimental thinking changes your lived experience, and you’d better get used to that sooner or later. Life is what you make of it, regardless of what makes it. So don’t let your angsty teenager watch this one, because they’re going to come out of it with some poorly supported assertions (which the director spends shockingly little time refuting) and some really annoying dinner table conversation. The last thing the world needs is another teenage nihilist.Directed by Rodney Ascher. Starring Nick Bostrom, Joshua Cooke, and Erik Davis. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release February 5, 2021. Updated October 2, 2021
Watch the trailer for A Glitch in the Matrix
A Glitch in the Matrix
Rating & Content Info
Why is A Glitch in the Matrix rated Not Rated? A Glitch in the Matrix is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: There are brief scenes of violence from other films. An individual tells a story about an individual stealing and crashing an empty plane. An individual tells the story of how they committed multiple homicides. There is a CGI depiction of open-heart surgery.
Sexual Content: Some revealing outfits are seen in music videos. A sex scene is shown from The Matrix Reloaded.
Profanity: Two extreme profanities are seen written out, and two more are spoken aloud. There are also three uses of scatological profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: An individual tells a story which involves excessive drinking. A man is shown vaping.
Page last updated October 2, 2021
A Glitch in the Matrix Parents' Guide
What are the arguments for Simulation Theory? What do you think appeals to people about it? What are some arguments against it? The evidence presented is largely anecdotal – how do you think those events could be interpreted in a different way? How can we analyze information to sift through anecdotal evidence and opinion?
Director Rodney Ascher also made a documentary titled Room 237, which explores the conspiracy theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick and The Shining. What do you think the interest is with far-fetched conspiracies? Do you think he believes them himself? Why does he include so few counterarguments in this film? Is that lazy filmmaking, sensationalism, or an abdication of moral responsibility? There’s over an hour of strange anecdotal evidence, which he contrasts with about 20 minutes of counterargument or discussion. Does that seem like a reasonable balance?
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Phillip K Dick’s work has inspire a number of films – notably Blade Runner, Minority Report, In a Scanner Darkly, and the Amazon Prime miniseries The Man in the High Castle. Other reality-bending films include Inception, The Matrix, Shutter Island, The Truman Show, and Source Code.
If you’re interested in moral philosophy, a surprisingly good resource is the NBC series The Good Place, in which a group of individuals find themselves in the afterlife and struggle to understand morality.