User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 115 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 115
  2. Negative: 22 out of 115
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  1. PatC.
    Sep 7, 2005
    3
    Unique and cerebral, but probably should be regarded more as a philosophical tutorial or documentary. I found the jittery animated visualization hard on the eyes and the lack of plot and character development disruptive of the continuity required for attentive viewing of a full length feature. The film appears to be a compilation of fleeting thoughts that didn't fit into other Unique and cerebral, but probably should be regarded more as a philosophical tutorial or documentary. I found the jittery animated visualization hard on the eyes and the lack of plot and character development disruptive of the continuity required for attentive viewing of a full length feature. The film appears to be a compilation of fleeting thoughts that didn't fit into other projects. While interesting to the introspective mind and containing an undeniably positive message, I didn't think they constituted a movie. Expand
  2. RyanM.
    Nov 4, 2001
    3
    The visuals hurt your eyes, the dialogue teases your mind, and then you think better of wasting your time.
  3. DavidK.
    Feb 16, 2003
    3
    Waking Life is like a good song with awful, awful lyrics. Although some scenes appear to have been run through a simple photoshop filter, overall the visuals are captivating. The dialogue, however, is complete garbage. And the entire thing is dialogue. If Waking Life had appeared as a short story instead of a movie, it would have been immediately and rightly dismissed as being nothing Waking Life is like a good song with awful, awful lyrics. Although some scenes appear to have been run through a simple photoshop filter, overall the visuals are captivating. The dialogue, however, is complete garbage. And the entire thing is dialogue. If Waking Life had appeared as a short story instead of a movie, it would have been immediately and rightly dismissed as being nothing more than a vague, unfocused first-year philosophy term paper. The movie has a tangible air of "dude this is totally gonna blow your mind" to it which is revolting. No philosophical idea in Waking Life can be found that could not be found first and in far greater clarity in a book. This movie, in short, has no new ideas. Its sole contribution to human thought is likely to be filed in a computer graphics journal of special effects techniques, nowhere near the works of Sartre and Nietzsche. Waking Life is a wonderful example of how film is inherently a poor medium for expressing complex theoretical ideas. It meanders around many different subjects -- each with their own narrator right out of your psychology 101 class. These guides try, like, very sincerely to get some, like, very deep concepts across in words with, like, mixed results. Often the idea is completely lost in the delivery. Those truly interested in philosophy and the workings of the mind will be better off skipping this pretentious flick and heading to the library. Those who are into dropping acid and dropping names, however, might as well hang around to see how the thing ends. Expand
  4. CraigA.
    May 4, 2005
    2
    I'm an academic and I love that this film has been made and that there is an audience for it. But don't ask me to watch it again. Waking Life is new age pretension masquesarding as philosophy.
  5. Steve
    Jun 30, 2005
    1
    The film succumbs to the post-modern self-indulgence that it attempts to escape with its montage of misquoted topics covered in philosophy lectures. Moviemaking has lost a great deal of its originiality these days. It is tempting to like a movie like this because it's glossy and revolutionary to the eye. The writer and director of "Waking Life" is like that guy in the bar in "Good The film succumbs to the post-modern self-indulgence that it attempts to escape with its montage of misquoted topics covered in philosophy lectures. Moviemaking has lost a great deal of its originiality these days. It is tempting to like a movie like this because it's glossy and revolutionary to the eye. The writer and director of "Waking Life" is like that guy in the bar in "Good Will Hunting" who tries to pass of what he learned in class as his own, seemingly profound thoughts. It gets a 1 for visual creativity. Expand
  6. GillS.
    Nov 10, 2001
    1
    Like having taken some shrooms in your apartment, and then on your way out being trapped in an elevator for 99 minutes with a drunk who insists on pretending he is an Oxford Don, specializing in philosophy and you are his student. That, or getting repeatedly hit on the head by a few Hackett editions, wrapped in the manuscript pages of publisher-refused monographs on Derrida.
  7. KimmieK.
    Jun 15, 2002
    1
    Of the recent films dealing with this subject matter, Waking Life is the least satisfying. I fell asleep 30 minutes into the first viewing, and barely got through the second. The animation gave me a headache, although it did capture facial expressions and gestures better than any animation that I can recall. Far from 'thought-provoking' 'intriguing' or Of the recent films dealing with this subject matter, Waking Life is the least satisfying. I fell asleep 30 minutes into the first viewing, and barely got through the second. The animation gave me a headache, although it did capture facial expressions and gestures better than any animation that I can recall. Far from 'thought-provoking' 'intriguing' or 'astounding,' Waking life is a collage of highlights from every philosophy class I've ever taken, with less satisfaction, because of the lack of group discussion after each rant. For example, in my metaphysics class, there was a dream discussion that would have rendered the Delpy/Hawke scene thoroughly ineffectual. Perhaps Waking Life would be suitable for an intro to philosophy, but there are other movies that handle similar discussions better. In addition, just because an art form has a modicum of originality to it doesn't mean that everyone should automatically believe it's genius. However, if you like trite, pretentious, and derivative movies and want to know what hallucinogenic drugs are like, then go see this critical darling! Expand
  8. NickR.
    May 18, 2003
    1
    Kimmie K. pretty much hit the nail on the head. Basically an amalgam of basic philosophic debates combined with an original animation style that ultimately makes for a bad film. I enjoyed these debates far more when I read them in books and discussed them in class.
  9. TomH.
    May 12, 2007
    1
    Graphics were nausea inducing. First 20 minutes of the story were very hard to follow.
  10. EricM.
    Nov 23, 2001
    1
    What a piece of pretentious crap. If I were 22, maybe this would be more of a Significant Film, but at 30, it's a yawning bore.
  11. DavidT.
    Mar 29, 2007
    0
    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.
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 80
    Like being jacked directly into Linklater's alpha waves, and the experience is bracingly new to movies.
  2. The film is truly special, truly different -- a wondrous talky roundelay about and for people who love life.
  3. An amazing thing -- a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues the logic-defying (parallel) subjects of dreaming and moviegoing.