Donnie Darko (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

Donnie Darko (2001)



Critic Consensus: Richard Kelly's debut feature Donnie Darko is a daring, original vision, packed with jarring ideas and intelligence and featuring a remarkable performance from Jake Gyllenhaal as the troubled title character.

Movie Info

Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a bright and charming high-school student who also has a dark and willfully eccentric side; he does little to mask his contempt for many of his peers and enjoys challenging the authority of the adults around him. Donnie is also visited on occasion by Frank, a monstrous six-foot rabbit that only Donnie can see who often urges him to perform dangerous and destructive pranks. Late one night, Frank leads Donnie out of his home to inform him that the world will come to an end in less than a month; moments later, the engine of a jet aircraft comes crashing through the ceiling of Donnie's room, making him think there might be something to Frank's prophesies after all. The rest of Donnie's world is only marginally less bizarre, as he finds himself dealing with his confused parents (Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne), his college-age sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal), his perplexed analyst (Katherine Ross), a rebellious English teacher (Drew Barrymore), a sleazy self-help expert (Patrick Swayze), and the new girl at school who is attracted by Donnie's quirks (Jena Malone). Donnie Darko was the first feature film from writer and director Richard Kelly; Drew Barrymore, who plays teacher Karen Pomeroy, also lent her support to the project as executive producer. A director's cut played in select theaters on a limited basis in the summer of 2004, featuring original music cues and trimmed scenes originally in Kelly's first cut of the film. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (for language, some drug use and violence)
Genre: Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Richard Kelly
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 19, 2002
Newmarket Film Group - Official Site


Jena Malone
as Gretchen
Katharine Ross
as Dr. Thurman
Noah Wyle
as Prof. Monnitoff
Daveigh Chase
as Samantha
James Duval
as Frank/`The Rabbit'
Arthur Taxier
as Dr. Fisher
Mark Hoffman
as Police Officer
David St. James
as Bob Garland
Tom Tangen
as Man in Red Jogging S...
Jazzie Mahannah
as Joanie James
Jolene Purdy
as Cherita Chen
Seth Rogen
as Ricky Danforth
David Moreland
as Principal Cole
Kristina Malota
as Susie Bates
Marina Malota
as Emily Bates
Carly Naples
as Suzy Bailey
Tiler Peck
as Beth Farmer
Patience Cleveland
as Roberta Sparrow/ Gra...
Lisa K. Wyatt
as Lina Connie
Rachel Winfree
as Shanda Riesman
Jack Salvatore Jr.
as Larry Riesman
Phyllis Lyons
as Anne Fisher
Ashley Tisdale
as Dorky Girl
Alison Jones
as Dorky Sister
Jerry Trainor
as Lanky Kid
Joan Blair
as Mystery Woman
Fran Kranz
as Passenger
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Donnie Darko

Critic Reviews for Donnie Darko

All Critics (110) | Top Critics (18)

Kelly is a supple and courageous storyteller, boldly free-associating as he mixes parody and satire with earnest psychodrama and coming up with plot points no one could anticipate.

Full Review… | June 8, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Donnie Darko has plenty of problems. But most stem from a young filmmaker overswinging on his first time up to the plate and hitting a deep fly out rather than a home run.

Full Review… | June 8, 2007
Top Critic

An incredibly fascinating, star-making film that never fails to intrigue.

Full Review… | January 29, 2012

Donnie Darko is a bit like a teenager: brooding, complex, rebellious, and difficult to comprehend.

Full Review… | December 29, 2011
Movie Metropolis

Defines itself through sustained mood, otherworldly intrigue and deep, abiding humanism.

Full Review… | June 20, 2011
Lessons of Darkness

A decidedly weird time-travel drama that puzzled viewers so much that many went back to see it again and again... Unfortunately, Kelly's extended version diminishes the film's impact.

Full Review… | March 10, 2011
Movie Talk

Audience Reviews for Donnie Darko

Incredible movie, completely underrated. Donnie Darko is the most unlikely hero of the small town of Middlesex in this amazing, original film. It may require more than one viewing to understand it. I highly recommend watching the director's cut.

Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to come away from Donnie Darko with, I would say that this is a very clever film, or a very clueless one.
( I Think) When it begins everything that follows for the next hundred minutes has happened already. That's one way to look at it. Another way would be to see it as pure surrealism like John Carpenter's In The Mouth of Madness or David Lynch's Mullholland Dr. Such films are conundrums, but the question is whether or not you are capable of watching a movie that leaves you frustrated intentionally. If surrealism is your thing, you will probably have luck with Donnie Darko. It is a good one for a movie goer.
Up until the climax, we are led to believe that this is a film about a young suburban middle- class boy (Donnie) who has schizophrenia and one night envisions a large satanic looking rabbit (the anti-Harvey) to tells him to do some pretty bad things if he wants to survive the end of the world in 28 days, something hours and something seconds.
The people in this film are weird, though not as much so as Mulholland Dr. (In part because the acting here is more toned down, usually) One could argue though that there are too many characters. Some of the screen time that is dedicated to the supporting cast could have gone to Donnies story, which is more important. His conversations with Frank (the rabbit) are intriguing but they are too short and too few.
The climax is one that takes Donnie Darko and turns it inside out. There is no literal resolution to the thriller side of Donnie Darko, only what the viewer chooses to make of it. Is it a great movie? no, but its partial originality and evocative direction are enough to make it worth a watch. 1/2 Star 1-15-2004 (Updated)

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

A wickedly smart, savvy supernatural thriller from the mind of one-hit wonderkid Richard Kelly about a mentally disturbed boy (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is harassed by a demonic bunny rabbit who says the end of the world is coming in 28 days. This has been heralded by many as a phenomenal film, attaining a cult following over the years, and it lives up to its reputation with a plot designed by an absolute genius of a writer and director in Kelly. Gyllenhaal's perfect performance is the major driving force behind this film, being that his character is brutally honest in addition to being severely troubled and confused, which makes him a character that is easy to empathize with. The end of the film is a head-scratcher to be sure, but once you figure out all the nitty, gritty details, it is hard not to be in awe of how creative it is. Probably one of my favorite films to watch again and gain, it is hard not to love its subversive take on 80's culture and the basic family structure in addition to its insane, ultimately brilliant storyline.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Donnie Darko Quotes

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