The most popular type of movie I see getting made this day and age are superhero movies. Because they are so popular It feels like I can’t go a week without someone asking me “what’s your favorite superhero movie?” or “who’s your favorite superhero?”. And every time I get that question I answer back the same thing every time, “Donnie Darko.”
What is “Donnie darko”? Well “Donnie darko” is the brain child of Richard Kelly who wrote and directed this film. It came out in 2001 with a budget of 4.5 Million Dollars. Now I don’t blame you If you haven’t ever heard of this film, because not that many people saw it when it first came out. If you haven’t seen this film I implore you to watch it immediately because this film in my opinion is a modern classic.
Now, if you have done some research on this film, you might notice that this doesn’t look like a superhero movie. In fact, it looks more like a teen drama movie than a superhero one. Well you’re right, It really is a teen drama first and foremost, But if you pay attention to the plot of the movie, you will start to realize that “donnie darko” is himself a superhero.
Section 1: Premise
Donnie Darko has one of the most intriguing premises I have ever seen. Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) would be a normal high school boy with normal high school problems if it wasn’t for his mental illnesses and a man in a bunny suit named frank that only he can see.
One night, Frank tells Donnie to follow him outside the house to a golf course. At the golf course, Frank declares that the world is going to end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. The next morning we discover that Donnie’s bedroom was crushed by a plane turbine. Convinced Frank saved his life, Donnie decides to follow all of franks orders… no matter how sinister and evil they may be.
For the entire rest of the film, we as the audience are trying to piece together what is going on. Who is frank? Where did the Plane Turbine come from? Is this all in Donnie’s head? Is the world really ending? How is it ending? all these questions make this movie a compelling mystery. The main appeal of this movie is trying to piece together what is going on since the Movie doesn’t flat out tell you what is happening. But there are many clues along the way that will help you on your journey.
Section 2: plot
In this section I am going to try, with the best of my ability, to explain the plot of this film. If you haven’t seen this film, a lot of this won’t make any sense so please go watch the movie first.
This entire movie essentially plays out in a time paradox. That Plane Turbine that crashed into Donnie’s bedroom somehow caused the birth of an entire alternate universe, called the tangent universe, that strayed away from the original universe. The reason the world is going to end is because this alternate universe is unstable and threatens to destroy the Original universe.
It’s up to Donnie to save the world by returning The plane turbine to the original universe. He is the living receiver, and with that title comes super strength and telekinesis. Kind of like a super hero.
Now in the context of the movie, there is no way to know that if you haven’t read the philosophy of time travel, a fictional book in the movie. You can read that here.
Now personally, I don’t think the plot is all that important(or good). What’s really important is the themes and the character development that Donnie goes through throughout the film. The themes of mental illness, existential dread, and corruption are all themes that overshadow the kind of out there plot and the super powers that Donnie gets.
That’s why I prefer this movie to other superhero movies. Superhero movies are mostly about the action, and about how cool the superhero themselves are. But this movie forgoes most of the action for a more emotional tale about a boy coming to terms with his appending doom 🙂
Section 3: Characters
All of the characters in this movie are extremely well written, even the side characters that don’t have much screen time have memorable lines. But out of all the characters, my favorite is Jim Cunningham (played by Patrick Swayze)
Patrick Swayze does a great performance making this motivational speaker look like a complete con. And my favorite scene in the whole film is when Donnie confronts Jim and outs him as the con he is.
Section 4: Presentation
Richard Kelly did a great job setting the film in the 80’s, because of that the “donnie darko” is filled with great music from that era.
All the camera shots in this film give either a dream like feeling or an unsettling feeling depending on what kind of scene you are in.
There is a little CG in this film, that looks surprisingly well for 2001
Overall, I think Richard Kelly did a great job directing this film, even IF you overlook the fact that this was his debut movie.
Section 5: Conclusion
God I love this movie… I know I probably did a crap job trying to explain what makes this movie so special, so all I can do is beg you to watch it. I promise that you won’t regret it. I give this film a 10/10. It isn’t perfect, but it’s flaws are so minuscule that they get completely overshadowed by what this film does right. It’s been a week since I first watched it and i’m still thinking about it. If that doesn’t speak for the quality of the movie, then I don’t know what does.