Retro Movie Classics: Donnie Darko (2001)

DonnieDarko

I threw on the network called ‘Viceland’ last night and ‘Donnie Darko’ was on! I haven’t seen in the movie in over a decade. While it was a quietly released movie in 2001. It didn’t become a cult phenomenon until the summer of 2003 when it hit cable. I must have watched the movie no less than 20 times that summer.

The movie stars a young Jake Gyllenhaal, then to us known more for movies like ‘October Sky’ or ‘Bubble Boy’. Jake portrays Donnie Darko, a high school kid with bizarre psychological troubles. This movie certainly helped propel him into later starring roles like ‘Jarhead’, ‘Prisoners’, ‘End of Watch’ and ‘Southpaw’.

The film is rounded off with an incredible cast under director Richard Kelly. Holmes Osborne and Mary McDonnell (Independence Day, First Lady) portray Donnie’s parents. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight), Jake’s re-life sister portrays his in-film sister as well as Daveigh Chase who would later star in poorly received and little known sequel ‘S. Darko’ in 2009. Jena Malone, recently seen in ‘The Hunger Games’ 2, 3 and 4 stars as his love interest. The late Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle and a young clean cut Seth Rogen all round off the cast. James Duval (Miguel from Independence Day) stars as ‘Frank The Rabbit’.

The movie is one bizarre gigantic puzzle, layered with mystery and intertwining characters. Why does Donnie go out at night in a darkened daze? Why has a plane engine crashed into his bedroom? Why has no plane been reported to have lost it’s plane engine? Why is Frank the Rabbit continuing to visit him? Most of all why is this creepy rabbit telling him the world is ending at the end of October 1988?

Watching it last night for the first time in likely over a decade, it’s amazing how non-dated the film really is. It has a timeless feel to it, the same way ‘The Twilight Zone’ episodes do. Sure, they’re old or in black and white, but the stories are still engaging.

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