Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 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.
  2. The film is truly special, truly different -- a wondrous talky roundelay about and for people who love life.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Intriguing, arresting, delightfully refusing to be pigeonholed.
  4. 100
    A beautiful display of celluloid bungee-jumping.
  5. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    If there is justice in this world, this is the movie that will get people talking again about the excitement of film.
  6. An amazing thing -- a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues the logic-defying (parallel) subjects of dreaming and moviegoing.
  7. 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.
  8. An astounding, one-of-a-kind movie.
  9. 90
    It's the perfect marriage of music and animated movement. But even when there's no music playing in Waking Life, the movie's lyricism is sustained by the way it looks and feels.
  10. 90
    That Linklater pulls off the innovative feat with hypnotic assurance is nothing short of amazing.
  11. So verbally dexterous and visually innovative that you can't absorb it unless you have all your wits about you. And even then, you may want to see it again to enjoy its subtle humor and warm humanity.
  12. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    One of the most inspired cases of the medium embodying the message ever captured on celluloid.
  13. A smart cartoon about the life of the mind. It's about the fuzzy border between dreaming and living. It's thoughtful, provocative, liberating and fun.
  14. Exciting and innovative feature.
  15. Linklater's ravishing new movie represents a bold leap into the possibilities of technology.
  16. A smart, sensuous and sensory mind trip that caroms around a universe of thought.
  17. 80
    Like being jacked directly into Linklater's alpha waves, and the experience is bracingly new to movies.
  18. The effect is dazzlingly beautiful and surreal.
  19. 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]
  20. The pictures are gorgeous, and the words, well, if you listen hard enough, the words say exactly what one needs to hear: that is, to wake up and live.
  21. Few American filmmakers put more faith in the ability of words to stimulate mind and heart.
  22. 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.
  23. 75
    A breakthrough animated film -- a trippy cross between "Yellow Submarine" and "My Dinner With Andre" that will leave some audience members struggling to stay awake and others reaching for a toke.
  24. 70
    Individual artists were assigned their own characters and given free rein -- characters and locations shift on a dime from naturalistic to baroque -- with the result that the movie's formal imagination surpasses and redeems the banal tedium of some of the dialogue.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Audiences looking for something fresh and different, not to mention a head trip, will find it in Waking Life.
  26. While much of the film is as scattershot as life itself, there are a few superb sequences involving lucid dreaming that really get down to business.
  27. I'd like to think it's all a joke, that far from a dream this is actually Linklater's idea of a nightmare.
  28. It's a cult movie in search of a cult. It'll probably find one. It certainly looks and feels like no other movie ever made.
  29. Leaves an impression, while its specifics fade almost immediately.
  30. Reviewed by: Frank Lovece
    All talk and no action. Never, however, has pedantic navel-gazing been so beautifully drawn.
  31. 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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 49
  2. Negative: 11 out of 49
  1. 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. Full Review »
  2. 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.
    Full Review »
  3. Dec 22, 2012
    Absolutely astonishing movie. Definitely in my top 3 favorite movies of all time. I recommend this film to everyone, especially if you have an interest in lucid dreaming. Full Review »