Waking Life was the movie that I chose after Rachel said that we needed to watch a movie, one of the two movies (found in a discount bin) that I brought it home from America.
The other movie, Logan's Run I remembered with some nostalgia, but I was also prepared for it to be a little hokey. Oh ... My ... God, was it bad. I'm willing to forget bad special effects. But c'mon. By the mid 1970s we already knew what acting was, didn't we? Everyone in the movie, aside from Peter Ustinov, is truly terrible (Farrah Fawset!). On top of that, the plot was truly terrible, as huge portions of it made no sense from scene to scene. On top of that, the screenplay was truly terrible, with line after line of bad dialog. Ugh. I hate it when fond memories of childhood are sullied by looking back at them through the lens of a mature reality.
Waking Life was better. Much better. I won't say it was a great movie, but it was a very good try. First of all, the animation was kick-you-out-of-this-world phenomenal. Richard Linklater and his team of animators not only produced the most "film-like" animated movie that I have ever seen, but they did it in a wild assortment of styles, sometimes switching back and forth in the middle of scenes. I have never seen animation used this way, and it is truly something to see. Not to mention that some of it is simply breathtakingly beautiful and artistic.
As an example, he captures the characters and expressions of a group of violin players with such taste and accuracy, yet with a subdued sense of simplicity, that I can't recall ever seeing more full-fleshed and lively musicians, even live.
As far as the actual contents, it is different, and for me, that means GREAT. Now, I have to say fairly enough, that the screenplay for the movie doesn't really work. The basic idea is: a guy can't tell if he is dreaming or awake, and he travels around hearing random people express their ideas about life, dreams and consciousness. That's it. Unfortunately, a whole lot of it is pretty amateur and ridiculous philosophy. I think there may be thousands of college students on drugs who will find this deep, but, for the most part, it wasn't. With the exception of the final narrative about Phillip Dick which ends the movie, and was well done and thoughtful.
But, to echo the sentiments of Robert Heinlein, even a badly done DIFFERENT movie is better for the world than a whole shelf full of well done Hollywood formulaic crap. Please! Dare to be different, even if you only partially succeed. The world needs the inspiration, because it sure isn't succeeding by doing the same things over again, but this time "more of it".
Oh, and as a bonus, I loved the scene with my favorite characters from Before Sunrise ("Oh it's so French. It's so cute. Ugh! I hate that!") and Before Sunset ("Baby, you are gonna miss that plane.").