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Waking Life (2001)

R  |   |  Animation, Drama, Fantasy  |  16 November 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 45,529 users   Metascore: 82/100
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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?


This film holds the record for being the very first digitally rotoscoped animated feature. This record, however, is not covered by Guinness World Records. See more »


Old Man: As the pattern gets more intricate and subtle, being swept along is no longer enough.
Boat Car Guy: Man this must be like... parallel universe night. You know that cat that was just in here? Just ran out the door? Well, he comes up to the counter, you know, and I say "What's the word, turd?" And he lays down this burrito and he kind of looks at me, kind of stares at me and says, "I have but recently returned from the valley of the shadow of death. I'm rapturously breathing in all the odors and essences of ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Because almost none of the characters are named, a clip from their appearance is shown during the credits. See more »


References Slacker (1991) See more »


Pelo Negro
Performed by TOSCA
Written by Glover Gill
Courtesy of Nois Records
See more »

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User Reviews

How could anyone not enjoy this movie?

Okay, i haven't read any comments yet, but a lot of the "one line summaries" sound negative. I just finished watching this film, and registered an account with IMDb solely to speak of this film. These are the types of movies that we should be expecting from filmmakers today. Aren't we all tired of the blockbuster bullshit by now? True, it's not a "typical movie" and is a cartoon. But, the style is completely unique and entirely necessary for the story. If it were simply caught on film and released in that same manor, it would not have had the monstrous effect that it had, and it would not have come across in a way that would retain the interest of this generation's ADD youth (which SHOULD be it's primary demographic...they are the ones who can still change this world, and create the paradigm shift that is necessary) This movie is the fiber of all life, it IS that collective unconscious from which we all draw our own, personal beings. It explains the philosophies of years gone by and minutes gone by in a way that anyone could understand them. While I know that some closed minded people are going to be scared and confused by all of this necessary information, if only one mind is opened because of it, I know that Richard Linklater would be greatly pleased.

240 of 313 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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