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Donnie Darko (2001)

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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.

Director:

Richard Kelly

Writer:

Richard Kelly
Popularity
500 ( 139)
Top Rated Movies #223 | 11 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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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

Taglines:

Dark. Darker. Darko. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 October 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Donnie Darko See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Initially, Richard Kelly sought permission from the estate of Peyo, the Smurfs, to show a Smurf doll, for Donnie and his friends, at which to shoot. While on the same conference call, Kelly was told that Donnie would also be allowed to talk about Smurf sex, because what had been written in the script was considered an accurate description. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

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 »

Alternate Versions

Changes from the original in the Director's Cut:
  • 2 mins: As Donnie Rides into town the music has changed from Echo and the Bunnymen's The Killing Moon to INXS's Never Tear Us Apart.
  • 6 mins: Before Donnie's mum enters his room after dinner she has a short discussion with Elizabeth, asking how she knew Donnie has stopped taking his medication.
  • 9 mins: As Donnie is awakened by Frank's voice we see a close up of his eye opening with Frank reflected in his iris. Also the sequence as he leaves the house is extended slightly.
  • 16 mins: As Donnie, Samantha and Elizabeth sit in the hotel room Samantha tries to think of ways to make money from the accident, and Donnie tells her when she falls asleep he's going to "fart in your face."
  • 17 mins: As Donnie's parents discuss Frankie Feedler the scene is slightly extended, Donnie's dad thinks someone was watching over him.
  • 23 mins: As Gretchen Ross makes her first appearance in the classroom more reactions can be heard from the classmates.
  • 24 mins: As Donnie and his dad drive, just before nearly hitting Grandma Death, they flick back and forth between radio stations, Donnie wins and music now plays throughout the scene.
  • 28 mins: Frank's voice can now be heard during the Cunning Visions video, telling Donnie to watch closely.
  • 29 mins: Another shot of Donnie's eye opening as Frank awakens him before he floods the school, water is seen reflected in his eye this time.
  • 30 mins: Whilst waiting at the bus stop, before they hear school is cancelled, Donnie steals Samantha's poem and torments her. Donnie's friends also have another opportunity to bully Sharita Chen, calling her Porky Pig, and saying "I hope you get molested."
  • 31 mins: More rumors fly around as to why school is closed.
  • 33 mins: As Donnie walks home with Gretchen he mentions how he wants to be able to "change things."
  • 37 mins: As the police check the student's handwriting we see Donnie looking nervous, and Karen Pomeroy noticing it. This also fixes the continuity as all the previous names on the list are called before Donnie.
  • 41 mins: Newscast. Before the emergency PTA meeting Mrs. Farmer and Karen Pomeroy exchange words about Mrs. Farmer's intentions to get The Destructors banned.
  • 44 mins: Donnie's English class have a poetry day, where Donnie reads a poem about himself and Frank. "A storm is coming, Frank says a storm that will swallow the children and I will deliver them from the kingdom of pain I will deliver the children back the their doorsteps And send the monsters back to the underground I'll send them back to a place where no-one else can see them Except for me Because I am Donnie Darko" Karen Pomeroy then asks him who Frank is, Donnie tells her he's a six foot bunny rabbit, and everyone laughs at him.
  • 53 mins: We see the first of the excerpts from The Philosophy of Time Travel, concerning the tangent universe.
  • 59 mins: We see Donnie waiting for the school bus a plane flies overhead and everyone looks up nervously, then the second excerpt from The Philosophy of Time Travel appears, Chapter 2, Water and Metal. Behind this transition there is a short new scene where Donnie sits down next to Gretchen and she asks him why he has blood on his neck.
  • 61 mins: We see Donnie's parents out for dinner, discussing what they should do about disciplining him after the incident with Mrs. Farmer. Their opinions are wildly different, and they joke about getting divorced.
  • 62 mins: Whilst the parents are out to dinner we see that Donnie and Elizabeth have been sitting at home carving the pumpkins seen later in the film.
  • 64 mins: Another shot of Donnie's eye opening, along with footage of waves breaking on a beach.
  • 65 mins: We see Donnie and Gretchen in an arcade, the scene is overlaid by chapter 7 from the book, The Manipulated Living.
  • 66 mins: As Donnie watches Jim Cunningham's seminar at the school his perception changes, he sees things speeded up, and mentions to Gretchen that he is travelling through time. The seminar now goes on longer, with extra scenes before Donnie steps up to the mic.
  • 71 mins: Donnie and Gretchen go to visit Roberta Sparrow, there is nobody home but Donnie checks her mailbox and is inspired to write to her. This scene is overlaid with chapter 4 from the book, the Artifact of the Living.
  • 74 mins: Karen Pomeroy tells the class they are no longer allowed to study The Destructors, and that their new book will be Watership Down, however if any student wants a copy of Graham Greene's book someone has put 20 copies aside at the Sarasota Mall.
  • 75 mins: Another overlay from The Philosophy of Time Travel, this time chapter 6, the Living Receiver.
  • 81 mins: Another eye opening shot, this time with flames reflected in it.
  • 87 mins: Another overlay, chapter 10, the Manipulated Dead.
  • 88 mins: Donnie returns home the morning after the fire and talks to his dad in the garden. His dad tells him that no matter how crazy he thinks he is, he should always say what's on his mind.
  • 90 mins: As we see Jim Cunningham arrested on TV the voiceover on the TV is slightly different.
  • 91 mins: Karen Pomeroy's firing is slightly shortened.
  • 92 mins: Karen gives one of her last classes, after the students watch a section of Watership Down they discuss Fiver (the rabbit)'s visions, and how trusting those visions of the end of the world would save the warren. Gretchen and Donnie argue in the class about the meaning of them. Donnie doesn't see the point of crying over a dead rabbit, Gretchen tells Donnie he missed the point, and Karen Pomeroy tells the class that the Deus Ex Machina is what saved the rabbits.
  • 97 mins: Donnie says goodbye to his mom in the street as she goes to LA with Sparkle Motion.
  • 98 mins: As Karen clears out her desk, her talk with Donnie is different, she suggests on a Friday night Donnie should be out scaring old people.
  • 103 mins: Donnie talks with his doctor about his belief in God, and she tells him he can stop taking his medication as they are placebos.
  • 106 mins: There is an overlay of Chapter 9, the Ensurance Trap.
  • 110 mins: As Donnie walks around the party, observing people's channels, there is another montage of his eye, as if he were putting all the clues together that lead him to thinking he should go to Grandma Death's house.
  • 114 mins: As Donnie is pinned down with the knife to his throat outside Grandma Death's house, it is now very clear he is saying Deus Ex Machina.
  • 116 mins: Roberta Sparrow tells Donnie a storm is coming, and that he must hurry.
  • 118 mins: We see a montage of things reflected in Donnie's eye as Frank counts down to the end of the world.
  • 120 mins: Another montage as we see the universe collapsing and rewinding as Donnie travels back through time.
  • 123 mins: The final overlay is of chapter 12, Dreams, which explains why everyone seems to be having a sleepless night as Mad World plays.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Chadwick Boseman/Cardi B (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Under the Milky Way
Written by Steve Kilbey (as Steven Kilbey) and Karin Jansson
Performed by The Church
Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc.
Courtesy of Festival Mushroom Records Pty Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Nothing more than tricks... but, god, how they work.
8 February 2005 | by PatuquitosSee all my reviews

Sweets. They are not nourishing, but they're delicious.

This is how I feel about this film. If I make a conscious attempt at explaining why I like "Donnie Darko", I can see no real meat in it. I got no lessons from the flick, I hardly got a story... Forget what others say about this movie as "philosophical", "clever" or "trascendent". It's not. But, my!, how such a young director almost manages to make you believe it is... I don't know about you, but I call that talent.

Yes, the movie is empty. The story goes nowhere, there is no message, no moral, but the way it's all wrapped up keeps you salivating throughout. Don't think it's mere flashy fireworks, though. This is not a case of style over substance. It's something more complex, and that's where "Donnie Darko" distances from the rest. This movie is freaking special, is full of personality. I wish more films had this character. The charm of this film relies on a lot of pieces that fit like a giant puzzle:

-Chosen time (1988) is strangely proper (you'll have to see this movie to understand it, sorry).

-The movie is BLUE. Its photography is blue, its characters are blue, its story is blue. Everything is blue.

-Music is great.

-Emotions are overwhelming. They come from everywhere and at the same time. You don't know what's happening, but what might be happening actually affects you.

-I can see some Lynch influences. The scene where the gym teacher talks to Donnie's mother at the doorstep is 100% Lynch.

-Some scenes are, almost, scary.

-This is one of the movies that present the idea of "beyond" in a most seductive way. You feel there's something more than this world. It never gets explained, but heck, I don't care.

-Finally, and most important, the main appeal of the movie is that it throws together unrelated concepts in such a way that they feel ghostly linked. The movie is a melting pot of vague ideas, that, thanks to a great direction, get connected in the subconscious.

Exactly because of this, I understand this movie has so much appeal for some people, and so little for others. If you fall in the trap, it will touch you, and this movie could mean the world to you. If you don't, it won't, and you won't see more than a bag of tricks. Whatever the category you fall in, you have to recognize the skill of Richard Kelly. The execution of "Donnie Darko" is more than remarkable.

I like to think of "Donnie Darko" not as a movie, but as a niche some people feel comfortably unsafe inside, that people being 25-30 year olds with an affection for sci-fi and darkness. The more you fit in this role, the more you'll get into this.

RATING: 8.3


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