The Minimalists: Less Is Now parents guide

The Minimalists: Less Is Now Parent Guide

This isn't a bad documentary and it provides useful insights and advice - but it could have been so much better.

Overall B

This documentary provides an introduction to minimalism - the belief that we will be happier and more fulfilled if we own fewer possessions and focus our lives on things that give us meaning.

Release date January 1, 2021

Violence B+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B-
Substance Use A-

Why is The Minimalists: Less Is Now rated TV-14? The MPAA rated The Minimalists: Less Is Now TV-14

Run Time: 53 minutes

Parent Movie Review

The average American home contains 300,000 items – and after Christmas that number feels larger as new gifts and toys clutter the floor until cupboards are reorganized to hold them. Given this annual problem, Netflix has astutely released The Minimalists: Less Is Now at the end of the holiday season.

This documentary asks us to reconsider our relationship with our stuff. “How might your life be better with less?” is the central question of the film.

It’s an important query but, sadly, the documentary doesn’t measure up to the moment. It sometimes feels like three movies mashed together. The first one is a discussion about why we buy so many things – how advertisers manipulate us and how we use shopping to fill psychological needs. The second story focuses on the personal lives of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus and their personal journeys from childhood poverty to adult financial success and on to their embrace of minimalism. And the third facet of the film is a brief discussion on how to declutter our homes. The movie jumps back and forth between the three themes, often losing focus in the transitions.

The Minimalists isn’t a bad doc and it will provide you with some useful insights and hopefully motivation and advice. Frankly, if you’re already convinced that you need to declutter, you’re probably better off watching an episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. Her counsel to keep things that “spark joy” and her advice on storing items neatly is more helpful than the vague suggestions presented by Millburn and Nicodemus.

Where this doc shines is illustrating that minimalism is more than simply getting rid of objects. The two presenters see minimalism as a change of orientation away from getting and towards giving. As they summarize, it’s about “community not comparison; giving not taking; people not stuff.” Their reminder that shedding stuff frees us from the treadmill of earning and spending allows us to reconsider other goals and lifestyles. In a world without debt, overloaded closets, binge shopping, and a desperate struggle to pay for it all, how could we reimagine our lives? That’s really the biggest question raised by the film and the best reason to watch it – to trigger our own examination of our priorities. Now that’s a good way to kick off the new year.

Directed by Matt D'Avella. Starring Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus. Running time: 53 minutes. Theatrical release January 1, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for The Minimalists: Less Is Now

The Minimalists: Less Is Now
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Minimalists: Less Is Now rated TV-14? The Minimalists: Less Is Now is rated TV-14 by the MPAA

Violence:   Domestic abuse is briefly mentioned and a man remembers seeing his father extinguish a cigarette on his mother’s chest.
Sexual Content: No sexual content. A mother is shown carrying a naked toddler.
Profanity:   There are a handful of profanities including scatological curses, terms of deity, and minor swear words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is mention of alcoholism.

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The Minimalists: Less Is Now Parents' Guide

What motivates you to buy things? Do you plan ahead or do you buy things on the spur of the moment? Do you think you’re being manipulated by advertising or do you feel that you are freely choosing your purchases?

How much stuff do you own? How much time do you spend working to pay for it? How much time do you devote to cleaning, storing, or otherwise looking after it?

What if you had fewer possessions? How much time would you gain if you had fewer things to take care of? What would you do in that extra time?

For more information about minimalism, you can check these links:

The Minimalists: What Is Minimalism?

Becoming Minimalist: What Is Minimalism?

Becoming Minimalist: How to Declutter Your Home

Medium: KonMari Method: 5 Step Decluttering Cheat Sheet


Home Video

Related home video titles:

The Social Dilemma examines the way social media manipulates consumers.

Pixar’s animated classic Wall-E is set on a planet earth that has been covered with garbage as a result of uncontrolled consumption.

I Am Greta tells the story of youthful climate activist Greta Thunberg and her warnings about the cost of our current consumer habits.