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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
520 ( 52)
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:

You can never go too far. 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: The Director's Cut 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

Before Mara Wilson retired from acting, she got the script for the film, to read for the role of Samantha Darko, but declined to audition for the film, due to being freaked out over the script. At the time, she was already physically ill in her hotel room in England. 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 »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of the 2000s (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Notorious
Written by Simon Le Bon (as Simon LeBon), Nick Rhodes and John Taylor
Performed by Duran Duran
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Obscure and pretentious sci-fi semi-thriller; the box office was bad, but a loyal cult grossly overrates it
14 February 2007 | by J. SpurlinSee all my reviews

The satire is strained and self-satisfied. The scene where the title character berates his teacher for having too simplistic a philosophy sounds like adolescent score-settling.

The plotting is dreary. Just when things are about to get exciting, the pace slackens and we have to wait several minutes for things to pick up again.

The realistic touches are unbearable. The dinner table banter between brother and sister? The boorish friends' conversation about Smurfs? The dialogue for these scenes is listed on IMDb's "memorable quotes" page. Why? We have this half-formed idea that lame insults, or over-serious debates about pop culture refuse, are somehow "ironic." And that anything realistic is worth inserting into a movie.

Yet, by the end of "Donnie Darko" I was somewhat won over. I enjoyed the complicated plot twists, some of the strange images and Michael Andrews's splendid electronic score. But the small cult that champions this film grossly overrates it.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a paranoid schizophrenic named Donnie Darko, who gets along badly with his family, with his teachers and with his classmates; but he does manage to find a sympathetic friend in Gretchen (Jena Malone), who agrees to date him; and he has a compassionate psychiatrist (Katharine Ross), 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, who is either a large purple bunny, or man in a large purple bunny costume. Either way, Donnie is the only one who can see him.

Richard Kelly, who wrote, directed and created a webpage to explain everything in a tantalizingly opaque way, seems to think he's being a lot deeper than he is. This is one of those movies that inspire obsessed fans to demand that you see the film many times over, study the obsessed fans' websites about the movie, become an expert on the movie—and only then are you allowed to say you don't like it. Except, in their circular reasoning, not liking it is a sign you haven't studied it enough.

This is not "Hamlet." Much of the opacity of this movie is the result of sloppiness and pretentiousness. Take the engine that falls off the plane and destroys Donnie's room. Kelly seems to want to leave open the possibility that much of what's happening is all in Donnie's mind and that there is a rational explanation for everything. If so, why present us with an undeniably supernatural event? The plane literally comes out of nowhere.

Does the above criticism reveal that I don't get it? Nothing about the movie inspires me to delve deeper into its mystery. I was somewhat entertained, but its cult can have it.


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