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Donnie Darko (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, Sci-Fi  |  26 October 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 541,597 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 2,081 user | 281 critic | 21 from Metacritic.com

A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.



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


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


The cult phenomenon returns summer 2004. (director's cut re-release) See more »


Drama | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 October 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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


$727,883 (USA) (1 October 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The words "Cellar Door" are written on the chalkboard in Karen Pommeroy's classroom. When Donnie asks about their meaning, she replies that "This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that Cellar Door is the most beautiful." In the director's commentary Richard Kelly mistakenly attributes the phrase to Edgar Allan Poe, but it was actually J.R.R. Tolkien who, in his 1955 essay "English and Welsh", said that "Most English-speaking people . . . will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful." See more »


When Donnie and his dad are talking in the car - just before they almost run grandma death over - a clapperboard is reflected in the window behind Donnie's dad's head. See more »


[first lines]
Elizabeth: I'm voting for Dukakis.
See more »

Crazy Credits

"Proud to Be Loud" Performed by The Dead Green Mummies -- this song is actually performed by the band Pantera. (The Dead Green Mummies do not exist.) Pantera has all but disowned their first four albums, this song is track 5 on the fourth of those albums, "Power Metal." The band presumably did not want to be credited with the song (as they don't consider any of their pre-1990 material part of their discography) and made up the name The Dead Green Mummies. See more »


References Final Destination (2000) See more »


The Star Spangled Banner
Lyrics by Francis Scott Key
Music by John Stafford Smith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not as impressive as the original
21 September 2004 | by (Milwaukee, WI) – See all my reviews

*This is a review of the Directors Cut*

I've already reviewed the originally released cut of 'Donnie Darko' so I am not going to review the film again. Instead, I'll comment on the differences between the two versions; unfortunately most of the differences took away from the original film, which I think is truly excellent.

I traveled two hours round-trip with several friends to see the Directors Cut since it was not playing in Milwaukee at the time, and while I am glad that I saw it, I feel that the original is the superior version. There were many superfluous scenes in the new cut which did not add to the film; rather I almost felt that they made the pacing falter a bit. For example, the new scene between Donnie's parents in the café – a completely unnecessary scene which did not add anything relevant to the story. There were a handful of scenes like this, as well as some added dialogue that indeed added to the development of some characters, (Drew Barrymore's character, the teacher 'Karen' was enhanced a bit) for some it just seemed silly (One of Donnie's bus stop friends telling Cherita that he 'hopes she gets molested' turned him from just being an incidental character into being an incidental character who is a jackass.)

Another major difference between the two films was the addition of several special effects to the new cut. There were a lot of dream-like sequences (the file cabinets floating among the clouds ala Rene Magritte) and all of the stuff focusing on Donnie's eyeball, computer-ish codes, etc, that just did not work in my opinion. Also, some of the most subtle changes, soundtrack for example, were disarming. The opening song was 'The Killing Moon' by Echo and the Bunnymen in the original, which provided a great backdrop in the introduction to Donnie, his environment and his family. Kelly used 'Never Tear Us Apart' by INXS in his directors cut. Certainly, a good song, but after using a perfect song originally, it is hard to get used to an inferior replacement.

Which is how I sum up my feelings about Kelly's directors cut in general? Why mess with (near) perfection? 'Donnie Darko' is a fantastic film that was so thought-provoking it made some people run the other way. Only those who were interested in something beyond the ordinary stayed to ponder and theorize its meaning, and still are to this day. Kelly's new cut does not enhance the film, rather, it made it plodding and a little dumbed-down – two adjectives I never thought I would ascribe to this film. See the directors cut to play 'spot the new stuff', but stick with the original.


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IMDb must have wiped out years of commentary .... olliemankz
Director's Cut is not good. matthew-vaughn-141-344338
Why did Dr. Thurman say that it would be just Donnie and Frank? andonethousand
why did Drew B (teacher) buckbo
Why is his mom so calm in the end? monik_dark_angel
Reviewers that gave it a 1 star rating..... J_mac_Attack2000
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