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Waking Life

Shot on digital video and then reinterpreted by a team of diverse animators, Waking Life (2001) is a dream-of-consciousness journey through the slumbering mind's eye of the most boring dreamer ever. Wiley Wiggins stars as a young man meandering aimlessly though an unusually verbose dreamlife, which consists of a seemingly endless stream of monologuing intellectuals discursively theorizing (or ranting) on such subjects as existentialism, free will, revolution, and, naturally, dreams. The animation, which effectively zags from style to style within individual scenes, is refreshingly dynamic and always vibrant and engaging, but oddly wasted on this parade of blowhards, who talk and talk and talk but only rarely say anything of consequence. There are interesting moments, but few come before the hour mark when Wiggins begins to come to terms with his dream reality, and by that time anything that breaks the monotony of one more sit-in with a blathering guru feels like a pleasing jolt. Sadly, none of the jolts translate into actual currency and, despite its aesthetic appeal, watching Waking Life is like being caught in a one-way conversation with the one guy/gal at the party everyone tries to avoid in fear of receiving yet another pointless dissertation to which the only intelligible response can be, "So what?" Fox's DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Supplements include two audio commentaries; one with writer-director Richard Linklater, Wiggins, producer Tommy Palotta and art director Bob Sabiston and the other featuring the 25 animators remarking on their contributions. Also with text commentary, an EPK featurette, 19 deleted sequences, selected takes from the pre-animated live action footage, the short "Snack and Drink" by Bob Sabiston, a tutorial on animation software, and an early animation test. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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