Donnie Dorko
by Rusty W. Spell

It’s been about a year now since the repulsively horrible Donnie Darko movie has come out, and the general consensus is that it’s a good, important, edgy, hot young movie (read the wankers at the IMDB for proof). Of course, it is not. So for those of you who think you like Donnie Darko:

1. First of all, no you don’t.

2. You may think you like it, but you should watch it again and honestly ask yourself what you like about it. Your answers – if you continue to insist that you like it – will be based on crap that you won’t believe once you realize that you are lying to yourself and/or that you need to get over certain aspects about yourself that believe to be true, because they, too, are lies. Saying that you like Donnie Darko is admitting to yourself and everyone else that you are leading an unexamined life.

3. Allusions to other, better, movies do not mean that your movie is on par with those movies. Allusions in general are overrated. Often the best movies are allusion-less, too original to worry about referencing, and when the best movies do use allusions, it’s in far more subtle ways, like Tarantino or maybe Wes Anderson. So when the movie breaks into a tribute to E.T. or The Abyss or Stanley Kubrick, that only proves one thing: that the hack writer/director Richard Kelly has seen various movies (just like we all have), and he wants to make viewers believe that they and himself are hip for recognizing them.

4. The talking rabbit is stupid. It’s not scary or weird or funny or intelligent. It’s just stupid. When the rabbit is asked why he’s wearing that rabbit suit and he responds, "Why are you wearing that man suit?" your appropriate response is to groan and perhaps develop stomach pains at how stupid that was.

5. If someone asked you what the movie was about, the correct answer would be, "Some basic stuff the director learned in college and wants to show everyone as if those things are at all new." (As a side note, this also applies to the movie Waking Life.)

6. There is nothing special about the waterbabies that come out of people’s stomachs. This, too, is just stupid.

7. Time wormholes are dumb and should remain in episodes of Star Trek. Einstein was a hell of a guy and Hawking is a hell of a guy, but knowing about them and their theories doesn't make you a hell of a guy.

8. The main character's name is Donnie Darko. You do not like a movie where anyone would be called this.

9. Jake Gyllenhaal is a second-rate Toby Maguire. He tries to be the "edgy" Toby Maguire, but he’s not. I’ll give him a chance to prove himself in other movies, but in this one, he’s basically doing uninteresting versions of Kubrickian stares throughout.

10. The character Donnie Darko has nothing to be brooding about in the first place. His family is nice enough (and don't give me any of that "below the suburban surface" garbage, because many people would love to live in such a nice place, potential underbelly and all) and he even has a girlfriend somehow. This is why you shouldn't (and don't) like him.

11. The so-called "satire" presented in this movie is barely satirical, and attempts to satirize things not worth satirizing, sometimes because they are too obvious but mostly because they are simply incorrect. Here are a few examples of what the movie attempts to "say" in its crappy commentary: a. adults are stupid, while kids know a lot b. politicians are bad c. the world is dangerous yet beautiful d. America is bad, Wal-Marts are bad, electric power lines are bad e. teachers are people too f. high school is a difficult time g. infomercials are bogus. h. etc. Please find better things to think about and care about. You are more than this.

12. Important to know: the people who like this movie think they like it because it is "better, more important, less commercial, etc. etc." than something like, say, Van Wilder. But know this: Van Wilder is a better movie. Van Wilder succeeds on its own terms, even if it’s not an important or artistic movie. Donnie Darko, however, is attempting to be both important and artistic and failing. Donnie Darko is something that people who aren’t exactly familiar with important movies watch and enjoy because it makes them think that it is one of them, which it is not. Please watch Donnie Darko and then watch anything by P.T. Anderson or David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch or Errol Morris or even the fun-lovin’ Coen Brothers and you will, I hope, see the difference and stop wasting your time and mine.

13. Are you still hating "phonies" like J.D. Salinger told you to do? Are you still laughing with your friends about people who don’t "get it"? If so, please grow up. You are not better than anyone, so quit feeling so superior.

14. Drew Barrymore is a very lovely lady, and not a bad actress as that goes, but she is not contributing much to the movie, and the fact that she helped produce this thing takes many points from her. (Many were taken away earlier when she broke Tom Green’s heart.)

15. American Beauty was kind of annoying too (though overall successful enough), and Donnie Darko takes the most annoying aspects of American Beauty and magnifies it for us to suffer through. You are not the cam-corder kid next door, and neither was he.

16. Just because movies are "puzzles" does not make them good. Stop comparing this movie to Mulholland Drive, please. Mulholland Drive was a good movie. Mulholland Drive was puzzling (because it was a mystery, not because it wanted to be odd or make people have to "figure it out" or require a certain I.Q.), but that’s not what made it good. You like puzzles. That’s fine. Puzzles are fine. You probably also think that Marsallus’s soul was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction and you probably feel clever about thinking that.

17. Finally, you should really know the following things and more, though I’ve suggested many of them elsewhere in this article: The suburbs are a lovely place. People are not as stupid as you think they are. You should feel free to buy clothes, books, furniture, food, etc. at commercial chains. There’s nothing wrong with the mall. Your parents know more than you do, and it is hoped that you will have half the opportunity to become the people your grandparents were. Dogs are not children. The radio occasionally plays songs that might be enjoyable to you if you’d let them be. You are not appreciative enough, in general, of your own life or the lives of everyone around you. I’m only telling you these things for your own good. I’m a dumbass too, but the difference is I sort of recognize that fact. I’m content with it. Be content. Stop watching this movie. Stop talking about it.

Of course, if you haven’t seen Donnie Darko, now -- thanks to me -- you’ll rush out to see it. That’s fine, too. I kind of want you to. I want to find at least a handful of people on my side.

Copyright 13 Feb 2003 We Like Media.
You may email Rusty W. Spell.