Donnie Darko

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -3

Illness comes in all forms, but those that exist only in the mind cannot be completely diagnosed or dealt with. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) has just such an illness. He has visions of a six-foot rabbit named Frank. Unlike Jimmy Stewart’s gentle Harvey, Frank orders Donnie to commit crimes but also reveals future events to Donnie. The problem is that future events will bring about the destruction of the world, and Donnie thinks he is somehow responsible. When his parents are oblivious, Donnie seeks counsel in a science teacher, who introduces him to the concept of time travel. Donnie also suspects a mysterious old woman in town of having some information he desperately needs. A film that defies description, DONNIE DARKO combines elements of science fiction, drama, and comedy to form a bizarre two-hour experience. It is clearly filled with plenty of creative and new ideas, but its dark edge and unorthodox storytelling should attract limited attention.

All films carry messages, consciously or subconsciously, that a writer, director or actor wants to project. While some messages are certainly less profound than others, they are always there. In DONNIE DARKO, the messages seem more subtle than most. Several characters engage in conversations about the subjects of God, life, and death. Although the conversations tend to be quite cryptic, the general tenor projects Donnie as quite hopeless in life, a conclusion that bears out in the finale. The overall message is both obvious and fatalistic. The future cannot be avoided, no matter how bad it is, because it’s already determined. Therefore, people have little incentive to try to make good choices. Objectionable content leans heavily into foul language, with more than 40 obscenities. Some violence occurs with the audience getting a couple of views of a mangled and bleeding eye. Sexual content is limited to several suggestive and explicit moments of dialogue. However, obscene language keeps DONNIE DARKO from brightening our view.

Preview Reviewer: John Adair
Newmarket Film Group, 202 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (18) times - Mild 5, moderate 13

Obscene Language: Many (44) times - F-word 27, s-word 8, other 9

Profanity: Several (7) times – Regular 2 (GD); Exclamatory 5 (MG, OMG)

Violence: Few times – Moderate (eye mangled and bloody, man shot, people thrown around/ held at knife point)

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (guy tells girl he likes her breasts/ thinks about having sex with girl/ talks about having sex/ self-gratification/ wanting sex)

Drugs: Several times (smoking, teen drinking, cocaine use)

Other: People talk about death and its importance; discussion about whether God is in control of time and life/ if the search for God is worthwhile; rather hopeless/fatalistic outlook on life

Running Time: 122 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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