Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 98 Ratings

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  • Summary: In this animated drama, a man walks through what may be a dream, flowing in and out of scenarios and encounters with strange characters. (Fox Searchlight)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 100
    Not only does this film make you think, it makes you want to think. Few films -- few works of art of any stripe -- can claim that.
  2. 100
    A beautiful display of celluloid bungee-jumping.
  3. 100
    I have seen Waking Life three times now. I want to see it again -- not to master it, or even to remember it better, -- but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out.
  4. A smart, sensuous and sensory mind trip that caroms around a universe of thought.
  5. 80
    For the battered American independent cinema, Linklater's movie is the highest form of life seen in the last couple of years. [12 Nov 2001, p. 138]
  6. 75
    Might have been unbearable if Linklater hadn't filled it with so much self-deprecating humor, undercutting the pretentiousness whenever it threatens to become too thick.
  7. 40
    Waking Life doesn't leave you in a dream, specifically the dream of Linklater's previous films, so much as it traps you in an endless bull session.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 49
  2. Negative: 11 out of 49
  1. BigLO
    Jan 30, 2006
    A movie which challenges the viewer, there is just so much content that you could watch it again end to end and not get bored. Film is the most complete and influentual media format out there and a film like this shows not only what is possible but what we are missing. It wakes you up to and makes you want to re-evaluate and explore the relationship between your conscious and subconscious states of mind in a world dominated by logic and need driven by boredom resulting from the absence of creative energy. This movie addresses this nicely. Thumbs up! Expand
  2. Sep 25, 2013
    This is pretty much like what other people say. There's not much of a plot it's pretty much a philosophy session and there are so many things they say for you to ponder upon. The animation is some of the most interesting visuals I've seen in any film. You'll walk out of it thinking differently. Expand
  3. PatrickS.
    Aug 12, 2006
    i was blown away. It will change the way you view and approach everyday of your life.
  4. ChelseaE.
    Apr 8, 2008
    This film was simply mind blowing. I watched it every night before I went to bed for about 3 months, until I let someone borrow it and they lost it. It really opens your mind and your eyes to the simple truths of life and existence. From scenes of optimism to existentialism, there is a story for every type of perspective. One of my favorite quotes from the movie: "Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven't met, but I don't want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it's like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continuously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. "Here's your change." "Paper or plastic?' "Credit or debit?" "You want ketchup with that?" I don't want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be ant, you know?" Expand
  5. Apr 1, 2013
    Masterful and mind-blowingly brilliant, Waking Life is basically a documentary for the mind and how different reactions are dealt with with the events and scenarios that take place around us.
    This film documents a series of life views in regards to the simple occurrences in our life, politics, post-moderism, the human mind and even reactions to other people around us.
    Not only is the film a series of interviews, but it is an entirely animated affair, using similar techniques to rotoscope that are beneficial to the dream state to which the film is told in, seemingly inside of the head of the dreamer (Wiley Wiggins)
    The film contains some of the most inspiring and 'wake-up' moments of your life, whether its from a middle-aged sitting in leathers and drinking beer or from a wise old man, the thought-provoking dialogue and fast paced animation is enough to make you ponder your life choices.
    The animation seems purposely low-budget, combining shifting colours with random screen situations, flying, clouds etc. It is truly unique and beautiful to watch.
    Probably the most wonderful part of the film is the dialogue itself, one of the most quotable films in recent memories, it provides humour with realistic expectations, and one stand out is four men walking along a footpath, and one says "On the way to discovering what we love, we will find everything we hate, everything that blocks our path to what we desire".
    This is just one of the many experiences at play here, and hating this film is perhaps a choice of film preference, but shouldn't be one that goes amiss.
    The protagonist is taken on a wild ride of his imagination, with all these insightful people invading his mind, and the message of the title becomes clear, wake up your life and think, listen to the things going on around you, listen to peoples emotions and understand their choices.
    A truly magical film that is simply flawless in its delivery of the state of dreaming but more importantly, the state of approaching your life with a confrontational and emotional stance, whether its basic human interaction or your decisions.
    Beautiful and insightful.
  6. BobE.
    Apr 8, 2007
    A film that requires repeated viewings, and even short 'rewinds' withing the film. Watch it once and then decide if you'd like to study it. Expand
  7. DavidT.
    Mar 29, 2007
    I feel as though this film created exactly what I believe it was trying to escape, an effortless post-modern dichotomy. "Being wierd...for the sake of being wierd!" Terrible film. Expand

See all 49 User Reviews