Donnie Darko (2001)
October 14, 2021 3:47 PM - Subscribe

After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.

Written and directed by Richard Kelly. Also stars Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, and Patrick Swayze.
posted by DirtyOldTown (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Currently streaming in the US on iMDb TV and Pluto TV.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:47 PM on October 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

When it first came out, I liked the movie because it was weird, I wasn't too far out of highschool, it was about outsiders, and I was young enough to enjoy the speculative darkness.

This movie did provide "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion, <sob>".

Beth Grant is a treasure. Mary McDonnell provided gravitas and an anchor and reference point for the psychic pain of existing in the modern (suburban) world, and Patrick Swayze was a surprising source of humour and menace(?)/ conflict.

Though, my contemporaneous experiences with psychedelics put lie to the popular association of psychedelics with the movie, but far less extreme of denigration than I had regarding 'Requiem for a Dream' and opioids. Good grief, that was such a goddamned shit movie. Fight me.

But I never liked young Jake Gyllenhaal, in fact, I was/ am pretty turned off by/ completely indifferent to him. Tolerated him in 'Brokeback' and maybe 'Nightcrawler.' Though swapping him with Phoenix in an alternate universe between 'Nightcrawler' and that 'Joker' movie all the white supremacists liked might be interesting. I had a lab manager who famously made a pact with her husband that the only person she'd be allowed to cheat on him with was with Gyllenhaal.

Maggie G in 'Darko,' for me, on the other hand...
posted by porpoise at 9:14 PM on October 14, 2021

Over on the Blue, we had a nice Donnie Darko discussion back in January of 2021. If you want lots of theories and reminiscences of the first time people saw the film, they are there.
posted by seasparrow at 11:48 PM on October 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Good movie. One of the ones where the original is better than the director's cut.
posted by kyrademon at 2:06 AM on October 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Agreed - I saw (and really liked) the original when it first came out, and found the director's cut kind of a let-down.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:24 AM on October 15, 2021

I sort of absorbed the underlying explanations for everything from the online website/game from the era, the director's cut, and subsequent conversations Kelly has had with various outlets.

Rewatching it with my kiddo, that stuff seeped in around the edges and sort of pleasantly filled in the gaps. It was nicer not having that explicitly in the text. It all made sense but I didn't have to look at it, all shabbily spelled out.

Also, the bit that resonated with me this time was:
Gretchen : My mom had to get a restraining order against my stepdad. He has emotional problems.
Donnie (enthusiastcially): Oh, I have those, too! What kind of emotional problems does your dad have?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:31 AM on October 15, 2021

After narrowly escaping a bizarre accident, a troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes.

Well, when you put it like that...

I'm reminded of the Wizard of Oz logline that goes, "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again."

As for the film itself, I remember liking it a lot when I watched it way back in the day, despite not really knowing what the hell was going on. I shall have to rewatch to see how it's aged.

(But yes, the sparkle motion quote is enough if in the end it gives us nothing more than that.)
posted by Naberius at 6:54 AM on October 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

I hope this is a prelude to a Fanfare thread on director Richard Kelly's follow-up Southland Tales...
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:51 PM on October 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

One of my favourites when I was a younger teenager.

Seth Rogen as one of the bullies is pretty hillarious in retrospect. "Didn't your dad, like, stab your mom?"

I remember really being impressed by the website for the movie. I don't know if it still exists anywhere. It was surreal in its own right, and had a few easter eggs that added context to the movie.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 2:56 PM on October 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

I adored this movie when it first came out, being at exactly the right age for an overly-byzantine, navel-gazing, philosophical time travel/coming of age film. I obsessed over it and thought I'd remembered every detail, but when we rewatched it earlier this year there was so much I'd forgotten. Noah Wylie was in this movie for some reason? And Cherita Chen has a much larger role than I remembered, in a way I can't quite puzzle out.

But I had entirely forgotten how scary this movie can be. Maybe it's because I'm no longer a teenager who's identifying with Donnie discovering things as they really are, man, and now I'm one of the adults watching a young man spiral downward into schizophrenia, but some of the scenes made me deeply uncomfortable. I definitely did not remember feeling so terrified for Gretchen as Donnie's obsession grows (that theater conversation especially), nor did I recall how intense the bathroom knife scene is. Kudos to Donnie Darko for still scaring the daylight out of me, even on probably the 15th viewing.

Also, while "Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion" is the absolute runaway star of the movie, the line "tell me how exactly does one suck a fuck?" is an underrated classic.
posted by lilac girl at 9:36 PM on October 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

I feel like "And how did you feel, being denied these hungry, hungry hippos?" gets overlooked.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:13 AM on October 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

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