Silly rabbit Time Travel is for Kids
Donnie Darko (2001): 6 out of 10: Some movies just pass me right by. I found Amélie by the end more irritating than cute; I didn’t laugh once at Rushmore, and only a hostage situation could coerce me to watch The Piano again.
Donnie Darko has a large legion of fans and I understand its appeal. The acting by both Jake Gyllenhaal and Drew Barrymore is some of their best work. The rest of the cast also shines with a special kudo to Holmes Osborne as the father in what is almost always a throwaway role.
The school and kids remind me of my high school from the eighties (Though this being Hollywood the music is much better than what the radio actually played in those years.) And the filmmakers know how to frame a shot. I could even look past the Holden Caulfield and Harvey flashbacks the movie caused me to suffer.
So what went wrong? The plot is our main culprit. Oh, until the payoff it’s fine enough, in fact, it is better than fine. One wonders how the filmmakers will pull it off. The answer is simple. They don’t. If anything, the end of Donnie Darko reminded me of that atrocious horror film from a few years back Soul Survivors. Like Soul Survivors the movie holds your interest with more and more implausible plot twists and coincidences, then the movie cheats at the end like a bad junior high school English essay.
Now Donnie Darko is otherwise superior to Soul Survivors and other films where the ending is a groaner (cough The Village cough), but after all that goodness the magic is gone and they couldn’t pull a rabbit out of their hat. Even a six-foot demonic one.