Donnie Darko (2001)


Do you want your sister to lose weight? Tell her to get off the couch, stop eating twinkies and maybe go out for field hockey. You know what? No one ever knows what they want to be when they grow up. You know it takes a little, little while to find that out, right, Jim? And you… yeah, you. Sick of some jerk shoving your head down the toilet? Well, you know what? Maybe… you should lift some weights, or uh, take a karate lesson and the next time he’s tries to do it, you kick him in the balls.

— Donnie

I have no interest in seeing Richard Kelly’s latest movie, The Box. I thought I would go back to the movie that launched his career, Donnie Darko. Seeing this movie a mere handful of times over the years, I still find little nuggets that I hadn’t noticed in previous viewings. Overall, the movie that currently sits at #124 movie of All Time on IMdb is showing its age.

Taking place during October 1988, Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a Middlesex young man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He has stopped taking his medication. He begins getting strange visits from a guy in a deranged-looking bunny suit, Frank (James Duval) that tells him that the world will end on All Hollow’s Eve.

Frank instructs Donnie as he sleepwalks to ask him to do bad things around the neighborhood, which afterwards he doesn’t remember what he has done the previous night. During one of his sleepwalks; a 747-airplane engine mysteriously crashes through Donnie’s bedroom. Dr. Thurman (Katharine Ross), the therapist that tries to help Donnie hypnotizes him to get to the core of his delusions.

During English teacher Karen Pomeroy’s (Drew Barrymore) discussion about Graham Greene’s short story “The Destructors”; a new girl, Gretchen Ross (Jena Malone) comes into class. Donnie is immediately drawn to the emotionally damaged girl.

On the drive home, Darko car almost hits Ms. Sparrow aka “Grandma Death” (Patience Cleveland) when she is constantly checking her mailbox. She whispered some chilling words in his ear that set the movie into motion. Donnie seeks the advice of Dr. Monnitoff (Noah Wyle) about time travel and portals.

The conservative gym teacher, Miss Farmer (Beth Grant), who teaches the ways of self-help guru Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze) urges the parents to help stop “subversive materials” in the classroom that influences the kids. She might have a point when Donnie is urged from Frank to break the water main at his private school.

Donnie begins to lose control of reality when small wormholes form from the chests people around him. The intentions of Frank become more sinister as the 30th comes up. Life begins to spin out of control.

The themes of life, faith, the very existence on this Earth went completely over my head the other times that I have seen this movie. The movie is still as disturbing as ever about a boy that doesn’t want to exist in this world. The only complain I have is that the CGI is a little wonky.

Judgment: An impressive film about a troubled young man.

Rating: ****


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on November 7, 2009, in 2001, Crime, Drama, Independent, Mystery, Psychological, Running Feature, Sci Fi, Thriller, Top 250 of All Time on IMDB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think the story is still pretty poignant. I saw it for the first time recently. I don’t think everyone that watches it will understand myself, though it did touch me, it certainly wasn’t as mind boggling as I had heard. Still a damn good movie.

  2. On the surface, it seems like a boy getting into trouble. But the movie is about predestination, time, meaning of life. You might not get that on the first viewing.

    Repeated viewings reveal more about the true meaning of the movie.

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