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Donnie Darko More at IMDbPro »

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62 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the most relevant social commentary on U.S society ever put on screen.

Author: gogoschka-1 from wherever good films play
16 December 2013

Above all, this film has a kind of flow to it like nothing I've ever experienced in any other film before. The magic sets in from the very first moment, when we see Donnie waking up (and the song 'The Demon Moon' starts), and you just go with that flow and let yourself be drawn into that world. The story unfolds like a dream and the ambiguity (at least in the theatrical cut) as well as the fantastic songs help create an absolutely unique and strangely compelling atmosphere.

Fantastic script and fantastic performances: this film has a richness in its characters that amazes me every time I watch it. Forget the director's cut - here for once the theatrical version is the masterpiece. Probably the best social commentary on American society I've ever seen but beautifully woven into an ambiguous, slightly surreal fantasy tale with a haunting soundtrack.

My vote: 10 out of 10

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288 out of 542 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant mix of black-humour, time-travel and a teen love story.

Author: ( from Sydney, Australia
4 June 2004

Donnie Darko (2001) - 9.5 / 10

There are very few movies that hit at such a level 'Donnie Darko' does. It weaves in everything about a movie you've come to love; and it has something different to offer everyone.

'Donnie Darko' tells the story of a young Middlesex guy, Donnie Darko. He's a fairly troubled teenager, who awakes one night to confront the shocking news that the world will end in 28 days time. Over the course of these 28 days we watch as Donnie turns everyone's lives upside down, and witness things only possible in your darkest dreams.

Jake Gyllenhaal (The Day After Tomorrow, October Sky) plays a brilliant troubled teenager. Giving us the best performance of his career. Mary McDonnell (Independence Day) plays Donnie's mother with the same dedication and brilliance any mother would.

If you haven't yet seen 'Donnie Darko', place it at the top of your to see list! If you've seen it, place it at the top of your to buy list! Easily one of the top ten movies of all time.

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24 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

awful execution, the most overrated movie I've ever seen

Author: jason250968
31 August 2014

This movie is painful to watch, the directing is bad, the cinematography is bad, the plot is full of holes. Some people suggest that you need to read a book to understand it, some can even write an essay to explain the theory behind, however the movie itself is so lame that it does not show you any of that unless you deliberately do so. Don't get me wrong, I like movies of similar genre like "Mulholland Drive", but Richard Kelly is light-year away from David Lynch in terms of talent, vision and capability in making a thought-provoking movie. Well, there is a bunch of bad movies out there but they get what they deserve: bad rating. However, this movie is ridiculously overrated and it is absolutely nonsense that it makes the top 500 of Moviemeter's table.

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63 out of 116 people found the following review useful:

a monumental waste of time

Author: Zee Folk from United Kingdom
7 December 2005

I was instantly put off by the tired and worn clichés - the neurotic teacher, the nasty school bully, the fat Chinese chick who says "Shut up!", the sleazy mr. motivator, the "Mr & Mrs Average" parents, the eccentric old lady - all done to death by countless teenage flicks. And then the time travel and the convoluted, confused plot - laughable that the director is trying to (mis)use Stephen Hawking's "Brief History of Time" to lend some scientific credibility to this sorry concoction. It feels as if the film can't decide if it has anything to say but insists on plodding on regardless - with a vengeance... Redeeming quality for me was perhaps the soundtrack and some of the special effects. I wish it hadn't been so widely hyped - I would have spared myself the time.

I too am surprised at the many positive reviews but the most telling was one along the lines of "I don't usually like deep movies but this one is different" - made me laugh!

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40 out of 71 people found the following review useful:

One of the worst movies I have seen.

Author: jschroed from United States
20 February 2004

I have no doubt in my mind that the director of this film is an idiot.

Absolute garbage: the whole film. Drew Barrymore's performance was nothing short of the worst thing I'd seen. I finished watching the film with horror. It was that awful.

Let me be frank, I think it's totally the director's fault. The film's premise is interesting and the plot twists had the potential to be fun, but the entire endeavor was marred by an inherent lack of intelligence.

The director, I have no doubt, saw Donnie Darko as a superheroic, Christ-like figure who was doomed to sacrifice himself for the good of humanity. The film attempts to use magical realism to make its point. Your thinking: Never Ending Story, Star Wars, Willow... If only. I didn't like those films much either, but at least they weren't trying as hard as Donnie Darko to be internally consistent. Donnie Darko is very American, very Christian, and entirely too self-righteous in its portrayal of "truth". What's worse, it's plot has holes large enough to pass elephants through, so the filmmakers don't even have a right to act that way. In a nutshell, the plot has NO LOGICAL CONSISTENCY. The characters are undeveloped and the acting is reminiscent of a high school play. Not to mention the whole premise of the movie centers around an acceptance of "time travel" that is entirely pedestrian. Yes, modern physics speaks about time travel. No, it looks NOTHING LIKE what is presented in Donnie Darko. I wouldn't care, but they are attempting to actually present it like they are saying something along those lines. Like a B-Movie Science Fiction Flick from the 50s, the movie throws scientific and deductive ideas around without actually having researched them or patiently thinking about the consequences. I don't in principle mind when people get things wrong, but this movie comes across as a self-righteous attempt to be right. When you're trying to be right and the stuff you include can immediately be identified as eyerollingly incorrect, that's when I begin to get stomach aches. Wolfgang Pauli summed up their premise well, "That's not right. That's not even wrong." Instead the filmmaker has spent research on figuring out what the smurfs were all about. Excuse me for rolling my eyes.

The director could have gone with struggling with Darko's mental instability. No, instead he tries to paint a hero in a world that's full of idiots who can't save themselves.

It's a painful movie to watch. On more than one occasion I simply wanted to throttle everyone involved in the production. If you want to be annoyed, then watch this movie.

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101 out of 193 people found the following review useful:

A weirdo, narcissistic collage of failure

Author: El Dangeroso from Kalamazoo, MI
7 February 2004

"Donnie Darko" is the end result of 47 Weekly World News headlines strewn together in random order. Over one hour and 45 minutes, it rams together time travel, a 6-foot imaginary rabbit, a Tony Robbins-esque motivational speaker with a secret (Patrick Swayze?!?), hypnotism, an elementary school dance troupe and a stray jet engine.

What does it all mean? Not much. Ham-fisted, nail-on-the-head symbolism practically smashes you in the face. A creepy fat girl dressed as an angel. A statue with a dog's head and a human body. An old woman nicknamed "Grandma Death" who keeps checking her mailbox. An eye wound. The creepy fat girl's earmuffs. Heck, one of the ending shots is an M.C. Escher drawing.

The filmmakers would also like you to marvel at their camera techniques. Look, it's tilted! Now it's going fast. Now, slow. Wait, now it's turning upside down! Aren't we creative?

And be sure to spot the zillion story lines, characters and scenes ripped from other (read: better) films. The courageous English teacher ("Dead Poets Society"). The watery tentacles ("The Abyss"). An imaginary rabbit ("Harvey"). The lead character, wearing a gray, hooded sweatshirt, and his Halloween-costumed friends riding bikes ("E.T."). Meditation on the sex lives of cartoon characters ("Mallrats").

So basically, you're left with a sullen Jake Gyllenhaal moping his way through someone's bad LSD-trip. By the end, you're supposed to have some great understanding of your place in the universe. But you're more likely to have a great understanding of why overwrought student films are a dime a dozen.

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210 out of 412 people found the following review useful:

A waste of time, film and effort

Author: SevenComeEleven from New Jersey
19 April 2002

Although I do not recommend this film, neither do I recommend reading this review without first seeing the movie. Though I have not given away the ending, or most of the plot twists, this movie would be best viewed without any prior information. It's hard to pinpoint the chief problem with the film Donnie Darko, as there are many to deal with. Richard Kelly, in his first feature film, seems to have collected enough scenes of adolescent rage, late-night stoner diatribes, self-righteous justifications and inoffensive, banal philosophy to inspire twenty teen-angst dramas; then mashed them into a single two hour package with a sci-fi twist. The result is deeply distressing-- for all the wrong reasons. The film attempts to lead the audience down convoluted paths without any sense of symbolism or meaning, to make them sympathize with one-dimensional characters, and above all hopes that they will ignore the underdeveloped plot, full of unreconciled loose ends, by hiding it under a veneer of CGI effects and neo-surrealism. The main character, Donnie Darko, is a young man, committed to therapy, misunderstood by his friends, and rendered hostile and disaffected by his suburban life. We are meant to feel that he is more intelligent than his schoolmates, although sometimes that is a difficult assumption to make. For example, when one of his friends comes up with an absurd theory about the Smurfs, and Donnie counters with a theory of his own, his friend complains about Donnie acting "all smart." Donnie's speech, however, is no smarter than that of his friend-- just angrier. The only clear evidence of his intelligence is his principal's description of his standardized test scores as `intimidating;' but given the director's slant against simple categorization of human elements (as shown in the FEAR-LOVE sequence), this is a poor substitute for character development. Donnie takes prescribed drugs to combat mental problems, which are not addressed directly in this film. In fact, the entire issue of the drugs is understated, and one of the first chances the director has to redeem the film is lost. The ambiguity of Donnie's strange destiny, the possibility that all of this may be a product of his imagination, is pushed into the background, making the film 100 percent science fiction. This would not be a bad thing in itself, except that the "science" behind the "fiction" is very shaky. The explanations of time travel are weak, at best sounding like detached, uninformed rambling. We get the idea that the film's writer once read a book about time travel or a few chapters, and can't quite remember how it worked, but was sure that it was really interesting and wanted to work it into the film. The scientific portion, as a result, depends more heavily on expensive computer animations than actual development of the theories involved (at one point, a teacher discussing time travel states that if he continues to speak on the subject, he'd be fired. Apparently no further explanation is needed). Donnie's dealings with a visitor from the future lead him to commit several vicious actions. The justification for these actions is a tricky business. He damages his school, but it's okay, because his school doesn't treat him like a person. His punishment of a creepy self-esteem advocate (somewhat similar to Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia) results in the man's public humiliation. But should the audience believe that Donnie is some sort of avenging angel, striking out against ignorance and debauchery? He himself seems ignorant of the effects of these actions until after the fact. Aside from these flaws, the film is riddled with flat, uninteresting generalizations of humanity. The story is set in 1988, just before the Bush/Dukakis election, and the director touches on this point during the film. The focus, however, extends exactly this far: Donnie's gruff, blue collar father is voting for Bush, while his free-spirited, rebellious daughter plans to vote for Dukakis. There is nothing even remotely resembling a political statement here; simply a statement of the obvious. The former are not necessary to make a good film, but the latter should be left out. Likewise, Donnie's heartfelt speech about not being able to lump all human emotions into the bland categories of "fear and "love;" this doesn't ask the audience to make any great leaps of understanding. Everybody knows that there are more that two human emotions, and particular emphasis on this fact is worthless. Mr. Kelly gives homage to several symbols of 80's pop culture in his film: E.T., Stephen King, the Smurfs, Back to the Future. At it's heart, this film feels like the director's homage to himself, a collection of his own experiences, interests, personal heroes and adversaries, affirmations and disenchantments, roughly stitched together by untrained hands. Entire songs are played in music video format to the characters actions, seemingly because the director likes the songs. Characters who have little to no bearing on the plot (including the archetypal bully, fat girl, and right-wing idiot teacher) are given unnecessary focus, because the director really wanted to pack them in somehow. The awkward mess that is Donnie Darko leaves us wondering if Mr. Kelly has enough ideas left in his head to make another film, or if he has wasted all his creativity in one pointless, cluttered, meandering effort.

My rating: 1/10.

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23 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Whats all the shouting about?

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
11 September 2007

I doubt this is going to help anyone make up their mind about this film. To be honest this isn't really a review but more a commentary on a film that several friends have insisted is one of the great movies of all time. I've tried to come up with something to say about the film, other than its not very good, but have had trouble since I saw it in doing so. To that end I've decided to write about that, about not being able to find the words and why.

I finally sat down to watch this film after several years of people grabbing me and insisting I see this film. Some wanted to share the dark "wondrous" experience others wanted me to take a crack at explaining the film to them. Some where along the way I picked up the directors cut and put it away until recently when I popped it and gave it ago.

Its been a week or so since I've seen this film and I'm still wondering what it was I saw. To be certain its a unique vision of strangeness concerning the odd visions of a young man who is haunted by person in a twisted bunny suit urging him to do things in order to save the world. But outside of the strangeness I don't see this as the be all and end all or even the very good movie that some people seem to think the film is. For me this is way way way too long film thats weird for the sake of weird. For me its an angsty young kid trying to deal with change by creating a "fantasy world" of doom and gloom. What so different about that from real life? Forgive me I just don't care for the film. Its not that I don't get it, but the two plus hour march to the downbeat conclusion was almost too much for me to take. I kept wanting to scream at the film "get on with it" until I'd realize that I had the DVD controller next to me and I'd scan to the next scene.

What is it about this film that draws people in? I can't say. Perhaps I'm the wrong audience for this film, having been raised on the films of David Lynch, Jodorowsky and Bunuel where strange is a way of life not a means of getting your film noticed. Even the ending, which has echoes of other films didn't strike me as anything special.

Perhaps if I had stumbled upon this unaware I might have liked it, but mostly I'm left wondering if thats all there is.

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30 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

It's Emperor's New Clothes Time!

Author: dudleynomore
23 August 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


The people who are twisting themselves in knots trying to analyse the 'philosophy' of this movie belong in the same group as those who try to divine the meaning behind the Matrix films. Read some actual philosophy, for Christ's sake, or watch classic Art movies which engage with ideas in a coherant manner, instead of getting excited soley because a movie was made recently, marketed to your age group, and is associated with a hit single. The reality is that this is the best recent example of a pop-cultural product which is popular ONLY because it's pitched as arty and difficult to understand.

There's nothing to understand. None of the sub-plots (the infomercial guy, the *beep* about Grahame Greene, or wormholes, or the other stuff about censorship) have anything to do with the central plot about Frank, Donnie and his girlfriend. They are included to create the illusion that this movie has a message, when there is really nothing there. All of the anti-censorship arguments have been made far more effectively before, in movies dedicated to that theme; none of the other stuff links together or goes anywhere.

The plot twists in the sub-plots are all tediously obvious, as are the character's attitudes to them (like Donnie immediately seeing that Jim Cunningham is the antichrist - and look, he's found to be a pederast! Or the whole thing about Drew Barrymore's character being a saint crushed by a repressive system, or the street thug dudes, who walk into the film, gurn a bit, threaten Don with a knife, then walk out again until they're needed later). The plot twists in the main plot all come totally out of the blue by using the supernatural cop-out clause as permission for the story to go in any direction it likes. When movies like Godsend do that, everyone rightly points out how stupid it is. But then, Godsend isn't regarded as Art.


The worst part is the way this film wastes it's one original idea - the concept of a disturbed teenager who can see a 6' apocalyptic bunny rabbit. Wouldn't it have been great if Frank had been kept mysterious, or turned out to be some kind of demon with a direct, properly explained role in the plot? No, he takes his bunny head off halfway through, and is shown to be merely a guy in a suit who drives a car over someone at a key moment.

You need to watch more movies, people.

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59 out of 111 people found the following review useful:

Donnie Darko? Should have been called Donnie Dumbo

Author: cine-11 from Ogdensburg, NY, USA
20 April 2002

I rented this movie on the strength of the ratings and glowing reviews at this site. "Brilliant", they said. "Dark and beautiful", they wrote. 8.4 stars. Well, all I can say is, these people must have been on some serious drugs when saw this totally inane movie. The cinematography has the look of a student film. The plot (and I use the term for lack of a better word) is disjointed and meandering, not really sure where it wants to go, and that leaves the viewer not really caring. The ending, I suppose, is meant to be a twist, but ends up making little sense and falling flat. Donnie Darko, by the way, is actually his real name (ie, the Darko family), not an intriguing nickname. I give this movie 1 black hole.

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