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Donnie Darko (2001)

1:37 | Trailer
After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.


Richard Kelly


Richard Kelly
404 ( 26)
11 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake Gyllenhaal ... Donnie Darko
Holmes Osborne ... Eddie Darko
Maggie Gyllenhaal ... Elizabeth Darko
Daveigh Chase ... Samantha Darko
Mary McDonnell ... Rose Darko
James Duval ... Frank
Arthur Taxier ... Dr. Fisher
Patrick Swayze ... Jim Cunningham
Mark Hoffman Mark Hoffman ... Police Officer
David St. James ... Bob Garland
Tom Tangen Tom Tangen ... Man in Red Jogging Suit
Jazzie Mahannah ... Joanie James
Jolene Purdy ... Cherita Chen
Stuart Stone ... Ronald Fisher
Gary Lundy ... Sean Smith


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. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life is one long insane trip. Some people just have better directions. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Near the end of the movie, when Donnie and the other three are riding their bikes to Grandma Death's house, only Donnie's bike light is out (not working). See more »


When the students all write "They made me do it" on the board, Sam Bylen is followed by Donnie Darko. Cherita Chen wrote between those two, but the original cut skips her moment. It is restored in the director's cut. 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 »

Alternate Versions

In the Director's Cut, the voice saying "Get off the stage, Cherita!" and "You suck!" (presumably said by Ronald Fisher) are no longer heard after Cherita is done with her dance. Also gone is the catcall right before this. However, added to the scene was more raucous applause instead of the nervous applause from the original version. See more »


Edited into Hollywood Burn (2006) See more »


Voices Carry
Written by Aimee Mann, Michael Hausman, Robert Holmes and Joseph Pesce
Performed by 'Til Tuesday
Courtesy of Epic Records
By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
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User Reviews

Bizarre, but oh so great!
23 May 2020 | by megamatt-80194See all my reviews

Donnie Darko is a truly fascinating film experience. It's not a perfect film, but it's an ambitious one, and for the most part, it fulfills its ambition.

I will give no spoilers here, as the experience of watching this film for the first time is something I dare not strip away from any readers. For a small plot summary, Donnie Darko is a teen in high school who sleepwalks, and begins to experience ethereal visions from a ghostly rabbit named Frank, who informs him about a dangerous event, which plagues Donnie's life for a month.

Why is this film great?: Jake Gyllenhaal gives a stellar performance as Donnie Darko. The character goes through so many emotional beats, and Gyllenhaal nails each one. The teen angst is played perfectly, and he's truly someone we can all say we've felt like, or seen at some point. His development is realized expertly by Gyllenhaal, and is truly a character who has made a change by the end of the film. It's not heavy handed though, so you might have to go on a symbolism hunt whilst watching the film. Don't worry though, because it's a fun film to find symbolism in. Remember, in this film, the secrets lie within the subtext.

The script and direction from Richard Kelly are simply incredible for a first film effort. While some of Kelly's characters do have loose ends, and some aren't explained well or given enough screen time, the plot is fully realized, and mesmerizing. The twists in this film are confusing, but so ingenius once you understand the film. Kelly crafts a plot that makes sense in the end, and better yet, is not only constructed well, but has several meanings. The film is interpretable in many ways, and it uses ambiguity in the way ambiguity should be used: Sparsely, but effectively.

If you don't get this film upon first viewing like me, don't assume you didn't like it, and forget about it. Watch a couple of analysis videos, and it will not only make sense, but you might be like me, and feel like a big dummy for not noticing it the first time. That's the fun of watching film though! Learning about new things, and experiencing topics and messages in new visual experimentations and arrangements. Don't feel bad if you don't get it. It's meant to be understood over time. It's just that good of a film. It's the kind of film that lingers with you after the credits roll.

In conclusion, Donnie Darko suffers from some early 2000s corniness and has some faults in characters, but the plot and main character are so incredibly solid that it renders those mistakes seemingly unimportant and unnoticeable. You might not get it, but that's okay. Donnie Darko is a purposefully complicated film, and is also a purely emotional film upon first viewing. All that thinking comes after the credits roll. Not too many films these days make you think and feel directly after one another. Give this film a watch. I don't think you'll regret it if you give it a chance. It's a thought provoking film to view while in this time of quarantine!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

19 January 2001 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$110,494, 28 October 2001

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

DTS (theatrical version)| DTS (5.1)| Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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