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Donnie Darko (2001)

Trailer
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.

Director:

Richard Kelly

Writer:

Richard Kelly
Popularity
478 ( 4)
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:

Why are you wearing that stupid man suit? See more »


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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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Duval (Frank) and Mary McDonnell (Rose Darko) were also both in Independence Day (1996). See more »

Goofs

The name of the high school is "Middlesex," which would obviously be abbreviated "MHS" for Middlesex High School. Immediately before Donnie's time travel conversation with his teacher, we see the top of the entrance of the school. There is a stone cross there with the letters "IHS". However, "IHS" is catholic acronym from Greek name of Jesus (Ihsous) and is commonly placed on the crosses. This letters aren't supposed to be acronym for the name of the school. See more »

Quotes

[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

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

References Halloween (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Never Tear Us Apart
Written by Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence
Performed by INXS
Courtesy of Mercury Records Limited
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By arrangement with Warner Special Products
[Director's Cut only]
See more »

User Reviews

 
Beautiful, terrifying
2 December 2001 | by evilmatt-3See all my reviews

I think the main theme of this film was summed up somewhere in the middle, where Donnie is speaking to a not-so-helpful self-help guru and says something to the following effect:

"Yes, I am scared and I am confused. But I think you are the f**king antichrist!!!"

In the end, _Donnie Darko_ is a film about people who feel life and all the emotions within it very deeply. Donnie himself is a basically sweet-tempered (often courageous) young man who is pathologically terrified of loneliness and the thought of spiritual isolation. His quest for meaning and self-discovery drives him to the fringes of our reality, which only serves to isolate him more from the world he loves. The few who understand what Donnie is going through go largely unnoticed (such as his girlfriend Gretchen or a tragically overweight yet remarkable sensitive little girl) or unappreciated (such as Karen, the English teacher whose only sin is trying to show her students that there is no such thing as a true end.)

Of course, this movie far from polarizes its characters (indeed, polarization is the last thing this film wants to accomplish) and the majority are just a mishmash of the beautiful and the grotesque: Donnie's parents, who are at the same time loving and perpetually confused; the aforementioned self-helper Jim Cunningham, who is desperate to spread the lie that keeps him sane to everybody else; and Donnie's sister, struggling between her identity as an adult and her identity as a child. And then there's Frank. All I can say here is that nothing can prepare you for or adequately describe Frank.

Probably the best thing about this movie, though, is its incredible emotional range. It manages to inspire hope, love, dread, laughter, and tears at different points throughout the movie without making you feel least bit like there is a contradiction between those states. The scenes with Frank (especially the one that takes place in the therapist's office against the backdrop of a conversation about the end of the world) are quite frankly some of the scariest things I've ever seen in a movie, as they literally made my skin crawl.

Finally, the performances in this film are exquisite. The talent in this film is top notch and even Gyllenhall is just amazing. That said, though, this film has a dismal future. Combine the fact that the large majority of the moviegoing public is just going to find it unbearably weird with the fact that the movie begins with part of an airplane crashing into a building (this has got to be the very definition of bad timing) and it's pretty clear that this film is going to stay underground. However, if you are looking for a beautiful experience with a unique film, _Donnie Darko_ is just about as good as it gets.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 January 2002 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$110,494, 28 October 2001

Gross USA:

$1,478,493

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,979,093
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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