Parents' Guide to

Donnie Darko

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Winningly edgy teen-angst sci-fi tragicomedy.

Movie R 2001 113 minutes
Donnie Darko Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 11+

The best movie ever ,must watch for 10 and 11 year olds

Great movie not much sex and violence but it has lots of Mature themes but overall probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. Ok for 10 - 11 year olds
age 15+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (78 ):

This movie was embraced as a genuinely oddball "cult" item almost instantly upon its unsuccessful theatrical release. Like most cult movies, Donnie Darko works well on numerous levels -- as a brainy piece of science-fiction, an ominous psychological thriller, a satire on suburban values, or a tragic drama of a doomed young rebel. If anything it goes a little overboard in making adults (especially teachers/faculty) look cowed or cravenly stupid compared with the unstable but intellectually brilliant Donnie, well played by Gyllenhaal as a guy who can be likeable, sympathetic, and scary all at once.

Though Donnie -- sometimes in a trance-state, sometimes consciously -- commits vandalism and lashes out, he's smart enough to sense the eerie time-warp pattern behind all the odd goings-on. And he's heroic enough to make a Christ-like sacrifice at the end, for the good of everyone else, when the "end of the world" comes. Though it's possible he never had a choice -- just the insight. But by making their hero a classic underdog teen trying to come to grips with society, rather than an adult, the filmmakers created a far more poignant tragi-comic-coming-of-age-giant-skull-faced-rabbit-horror drama. Can you name a better one?

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