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Waking Life
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Waking Life order
Richard Linklater

Wiley Wiggins
Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy


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A kid (Wiggins) takes a trippy ride through an animated world in a quest to find out whether life is truly what he thought it was or if he's simply walking through a dream, or perhaps even just a figment of someone else's. During this strange, outlandish trip, he meets up with countless other people who try to convey to him the meaning of life.
There's really only one thing to say about this film: pretentious. Actually, there's maybe two things you can say: the first one is still "pretentious" but you may want to add wasteful. Why wasteful you ask? I'll tell you why. This film is beautifully animated and something could have been made of it. In its "features" section, you'll begin to fathom the amount of work that goes into a thing like this but unfortunately, even the animation can't save this film from itself and its pretentious claims on life and dreams. If you need to gauge the level of pretentiousness, I can only say that both Ethan Hawke (watch for his third nipple) and Julie Delpy are in this thing as animated knobs sharing with us their uninteresting views on what life and dreams are.

You'll hear all the catch phrases that people who don't know anything worthwhile use when they want to seem intelligent: "telescoping of evolution", "neo-humans", "representations of self-combustion" and my favorite, a mention of being "empty with such fullness". That's just a fraction of what you'll hear. What tripe!! What a pathetic excuse for a philosophy course!! This film has the major failure of being crappy through its own originality and of not understanding that mere originality does not a good film make. As a matter of fact, the reason this was original is probably that no one could ever justify such a lame reason to waste a good topic!

Now while I was watching this, a thought came to me. A thought I've had many times in my life (maybe a few too many). That was the thought of drugs. Could drugs help salvage this blown evening for me? Could drugs help me make sense of what I was watching? It was time to start this thing back to the beginning and give it another shot. I searched for drugs but couldn't find any... what to do? I called the Arrow but he wasn't home... That's when it hit me... I shouldn't be going to these lengths to be entertained by this harping collection of ridiculous monologues. This movie wasn't made to entertain, I thought. It was made because a bunch of people who thought they knew more than any other jerk like myself figured we might want to hear what they had to say. Screw that!!! The only thing I got out of this was anger. Anger at some of the most annoying characters I've ever seen. If you ever get captured by villains and are made to watch this film, you'll know exactly what I mean when you see that segment with the dude on the bridge. You'll wanna feed this guy a big portion of big-time ass-kicking!
The film comes with a considerable amount of extras, many of which try to give this thing some sense or direction. Unfortunately, nothing can save this brain wreck from the drivel within. Two commentary tracks open the show. The first one is animated by Richard Linklater and some other participants. It's fairly regular and you slowly begin to realize why this film is so full of itself: Linklater! The second one is more interesting if you're into the technical stuff. It's hosted by over 25 of the animators who worked on this film and who unfortunately had their images linked to some of the most boring dialogue in recorded human history. Additionally, there's a text commentary that is there by its own admission to help you make sense of this thing. It doesn't.

The coolest of all the features is the "Greatest Live Action Hits" reel. This film was shot on a handheld digital cameras and the animation was then "painted" over it. This feature allows you to concentrate all your hatred for the characters into 45 intense minutes of fun! You can see what these people actually look like and confirm your greatest fear: they do exist!! It actually lets you appreciate the animation much more than if you were just watching the film. A blast after a few six-packs. There's also a group of 19 deleted animated scenes. Take it from me, with this thing, anything that has "deleted" before it is a good thing.

Another interesting featurette is a 20-minute explanation by art director Bob Sabiston of the animation techniques used for the film. He's a really soft-spoken guy and his demonstration is fascinating. It's all computer animation but all made in a way that requires a true artist's hand. his tools are pretty neat and it just gives you that much more admiration for the art form. Although it runs a bit slow at the end, he does go through a lot of cool stuff. It's a pretty interesting thing to watch. There's a number of animation-related features as well, including animation tests and a few animated shorts. None are genuinely amazing but if you like animation then it might be your thing. There's also a 4 minute long making-of type featurette with comments by Linklater and Sabiston.
Ugh. There's no way I could suggest this to anyone. It's truly one of the most pretentious and pompous works I've ever seen. The DVD package though is very good and in the worst case, you can have fun with the features. If you do have to watch it though, I suggest digging up the biggest bong you can find. It may be the only way to salvage the experience because if life is a dream...than this film was truly a nightmare...
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