Donnie Darko

Year: 2001
Directed By: Richard Kelly
Written By: Richard Kelly


What an interesting film this is. It’s a bit strange and to be perfectly honest I have never really been clear on what is going on in the end but I have always liked it nonetheless.  All of the Richard Kelly  movies I have seen have been like this.  They are bizarre but intriguing in an appealing way.  So much of the movies being put out there sometimes are more of the same. So it’s refreshing to see a truly original and different idea. I think I identified with the messages and meanings of this film more in my youth but I still enjoy it today.

Time travel and worm holes are not ideas usually blended in with the typical high school film but that’s part of what makes this one exceptional.  Throw in a creepy ass bunny, a badass argument over the sexuality of smurfs, and teen drug use into the pot and you have taken a weird high school film to the next level. I think the movie had a great cast and an awesome soundtrack.  Those things can make or break any movie and they make this movie better.  This is a marquee role for Jake Gyllenhaal but he is continuing to develop a long and distinguished career.  He is fantastic in this part and he carries the film on his shoulders.  I think his actual sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, was a great choice to play his sister in the film. They have great natural chemistry with one another that Kelly was able to use to his advantage. I like Patrick Swayze’s part in the film, and better yet how Donnie Darko gets the best of him.  I think Beth Grant was exceptional in the movie, we all know a person like the character she plays and she plays it well. This was the first feature film for Seth Rogen, who plays the lackey of the main bully in the school. Drew Barrymore owns the production company that put this movie in the theaters and it was her direct involvement that got the movie made but I think she overacts throughout the film. What kind of douche bag teacher tells a new girl to pick a seat next to the boy that she likes? There are much better ways to play the part of the “cool teacher.” Noah Wyle plays a big part but who the hell is Noah Wyle right? I think big things were expected from him fifteen years ago but nothing ever came of it.

Richard Kelly is unique, to say the least.  His movies have plot threads that you won’t find in anything else and they are very imaginative. If I remember correctly his father worked for NASA, and I think that explains the complexity of his stories somehow.  He likes to use wormholes and time travel and other types of theoretical science that typical people don’t know anything about. He blends them with really personal and relatable stories though, and Donnie Darko is a perfect example of that. Typical suburban household with a kid on pills but in this house there is also clairvoyance, time travel, wormholes, and the end of the world. His other two films were Southland Tales (2006) and The Box (2009).  I liked both of those very much, though Southland Tales has been at the center of a debate in this household that has been ongoing for about five years now.  Every once and a while I try to trick Amber into watching it again because I can’t believe she actually doesn’t like it but this is always a waste of time.  She hates it every time, and I am surprised every time because I think it is awesome.

This movie was nearly straight to video because studios weren’t sure how to market it for release.  I think when you watch it you can understand why.  It’s not your typical film and it can be confusing even to the people that really liked it. I always recommend this movie but do so real timidly because it isn’t for everybody.  It has become a cult classic over the years and will undoubtedly continue to grow in popularity for the foreseeable future.  While it is weird I do think this this movie is awesome and definitely worth your time.


This movie is really interesting. It is dark, and very, very strange. I remember watching this movie in college and thinking it was so great because it was so original. I’m not quite sure I feel the same way about it now. It’s definitely one of a kind and if you like that really weird, dark and somewhat crazy kind of movie then you should see it. I look at it like watching what it feels like to see from the point of view of a guy taking a lot of medication.

NEXT MOVIE: The Doors (1991)

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