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Donnie Darko (2001)

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Arthur Taxier ...
Dr. Fisher
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Mark Hoffman ...
Police Officer
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Bob Garland
Tom Tangen ...
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Joanie James
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Storyline

Donnie Darko doesn't get along too well with his family, his teachers and his classmates; but he does manage to find a sympathetic friend in Gretchen, who agrees to date him. He has a compassionate psychiatrist, who discovers hypnosis is the means to unlock hidden secrets. His other companion may not be a true ally. Donnie has a friend named Frank - a large bunny which only Donnie can see. When an engine falls off a plane and destroys his bedroom, Donnie is not there. Both the event, and Donnie's escape, seem to have been caused by supernatural events. Donnie's mental illness, if such it is, may never allow him to find out for sure. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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What would you do if you knew the future? See more »

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Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some drug use and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

26 October 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$110,494 (USA) (26 October 2001)

Gross:

$194,220 (USA) (16 June 2017)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Donnie's mother asks Kitty (Beth Grant) if she has heard of Graham Greene, she replies that she has, since she's seen Bonanza (1959). However, Kitty is getting him confused with Lorne Greene, who appeared in the series. Sam Raimi, who allowed the Donnie Darko production to use and distort a clip from his movie, The Evil Dead (1981) free of charge, is married to one of Lorne Greene's daughters, Gillian. There is also a native Canadian actor, Graham Greene who has appeared in many films portraying native Americans including Dances with Wolves (1990). Graham Greene, the author, had many of his books adapted for films, including, The Quiet American (1958) (twice), Brighton Rock (1947) (twice), and Our Man in Havana (1959). See more »

Goofs

During the Life Line activity in Mrs. Farmer's class, Cherita answers her question card by placing an "X" on the chalkboard. When Donnie is called next the "X" that Cherita placed on the board is barely visible, like it had been half-erased. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Elizabeth: I'm voting for Dukakis.
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Crazy Credits

After the closing credits, on the director's cut, there is the title of the movie followed by a drawing of Frank. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brows Held High: Primer (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Show Me
Written by Quito Colayco and Tony Hertz
Courtesy of Associated Production Music LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

the dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
23 May 2002 | by (Huston, TX, CSA) – See all my reviews

"Harvey" meets "The Mothman Prophecies," as a troubled teen starts hallucinating a horrific 6-foot-tall bunny rabbit that brings him dark forebodings about death and disaster in the very near future. A streak of "Heathers" is mixed in as well, with trenchant satirical observations of high-school life in the late '80s (story set in Oct. 1988), involving a priggish teacher, a self-help guru (Patrick Swayze!), and a put-upon fat girl at the fringes of the herd. Finally, a whiff of "Back to the Future," in the form of a local eccentric who just may have discovered the secret of time travel, but a secret that has more to do with spirituality than technology.

A lot goes on here. There's a meditation on the possible overlap between madness and the ability to perceive the divine. There's a demonstration of why, in the Bible, angelic messengers (if that's what "Frank" can be taken to be) are often so terrifying that they have to start by saying "Fear not." There's an enlistment of what martial artists refer to as the "ki" (or personal energy, emanating from a person's midsection) in the type of time travel depicted here (the term "ki" is never used in the flick, but the term "path," another word for Tao or "Way," is). Quantum physics theory about wormholes is tied to the Fortean phenomenon of things falling unexplained from the sky, in a way that's more pivotal, and therefore more interesting, than the gratuitous rain of frogs in "Magnolia."

Time travel paradoxes and ironies enter the picture as well. One character (no spoiler!), whose life is saved by Donnie's ultimate trip back in time, wouldn't have died in the first place if he hadn't dragged her along to the opening of the wormhole. Another character (again, no spoiler!), whose truly terrible secret comes to light in the wake of an arson investigation, must go unexposed as a result of that same time reversal, since the arson now won't happen. Surely that's no oversight on the part of the screenwriter; it must be an acknowledgment of the choices and trade-offs in life, as well as of a confidence that no such terrible secret can remain hidden forever.

Somehow this pastiche works, largely on the strength of good performances. Jake Gyllenhaal is appropriately moody and, also appropriately, not always likeable in the title role. Drew Barrymore, who executive produced, appears as a frustrated first-year teacher. The movie's often dreamlike atmosphere is enhanced by the cinematography, the subdued but effective special effects, and the choice of the music on the soundtrack, which includes '80's pop tunes, of course, and a haunting original song (over the end credits) titled "Mad World."

Not for all tastes, but better, stranger, and more complex than I expected.


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