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Waking Life (2001)

R  |   |  Animation, Drama, Fantasy  |  16 November 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 45,505 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 505 user | 134 critic | 31 from

A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.


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5 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Jack Brooks ...
Glover Gill ...
Lara Hicks ...
Ames Asbell ...
Leigh Mahoney ...
Sara Nelson ...
Jeanine Attaway ...
Erik Grostic ...
Bill Wise ...
Boat Car Guy
Robert C. Solomon ...
Philosophy Professor
Eamonn Healy ...
Shape-Shifting Man
J.C. Shakespeare ...
Burning Man


Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves. Written by Jeff Mellinger <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 November 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Despertando a la vida  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$88,977 (USA) (19 October 2001)


$2,892,011 (USA) (26 April 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The entire film was animated at 12 frames per second. The only portion that is truly 24 frames per second is the credits. See more »


Boat Car Guy: The idea is to remain in a state of constant departure while always arriving.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are all rendered in moving, squirming letters. See more »


References Dreams (1990) See more »


Lastima Grande
Performed by TOSCA
Written by Glover Gill
Courtesy of Nois Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Score one for the dreamers
27 January 2003 | by (Notre Dame, IN) – See all my reviews

Waking Life is among a handful of films (Woyzeck, Magnolia, The Passion of Anna) that really frustrate me, because as much as I love them I can't necessarily recommend them to everyone. There are certain films for which one needs to be on a certain wavelength to enjoy, no matter how cultured or intelligent. This film is best for those who have sat around thinking about the big questions in life for long periods of time, dying for someone to talk to about them. I guess Waking Life isn't about those questions so much as it's about the people who are asking them, the wonderers, the thinkers, and especially the dreamers. For those who can appreciate it, it's a cleansing experience, one of a purity and beauty that has no equal in the films I've been fortunate enough to see.

138 of 159 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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