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Donnie Darko (Director's Cut)
DVD disk
02.22.2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Donnie Darko (Director's Cut) order
Director:
Richard Kelly

Actors:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie Darko
Jena Malone as Gretchen Ross
James Duval as Frank

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A re-release of the smash sleeper hit of 2001 featuring a mentally distraught young man with visions of a giant bunny and an inclination for time travel, with roughly twenty minutes of additional footage and a new bundle of extra features.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Without any pretense of having fully understood this movie from beginning to end, it definitely made it right up there in my pantheon of originality and new ideas. With all the retreads being churned out by the Left Coast Flick Factory, DONNIE DARKO stood out as an influential player in 2001 and remains a cult classic with a rabid following. The additional DONNIE DARKO footage featured in this Director’s Cut sheds a bit of light on the chronology of the story as is often necessary any time the words “time travel” are uttered on screen. The story however is just as powerful and as darkly entertaining as it was before, a perfect blend of grim philosophical mysticism tempered by the teenage environment. Jake Gyllenhaal and director Richard Kelly both did a wonderful job of not letting Donnie’s “dark side” take the character over entirely and transform him into a caricature of a troubled teen. Despite the heaviness of the trials he’s put through as the holder of a key that may perhaps save humanity, Donnie Darko still came through at times as just a regular kid, which went a long way in keeping him real.

The film also benefited from a great supporting cast featuring the likes of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Mary McDonnell and Patrick Swayze in an awesome role as a motivational speaker. The presence of Barrymore in the film might lead some to believe DONNIE DARKO is yet another stinker in a long line of teenage slasher flicks but be assured that it’s not. If anyone is afraid to see this movie because they don’t enjoy straight horror stuff, they’ll be pleasantly surprised by what turns out to be an intelligently written film which conveys its characters fears with almost no amount of prop blood. It does however affect the viewer in more subtle ways, mingling natural fears of the dark with the more physical presence of a very scary-looking bunny that shows up in the middle of the night and asks you to do some creepy stuff. The one thing that bothered me - and it's a minor one at that - is that the movie is supposed to be set in the 80s but aside from a couple of 80s tunes in the soundtrack and a discussion about the Smurfs, It never really set that up properly. That being said, it was nothing to detract from enjoying this film and while I can't say it affected my way of life like so many claim it did theirs, I can still give it a healthy recommendation.

THE EXTRAS

Full Length Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Kelly and Director Kevin Smith: At the risk of alienating fanboys round the world, I have to start off by saying that even though I enjoyed his first few movies, I find that no single person is more worthy of the title "overrated" than Kevin Smith to the point where I was really annoyed he would even be in there. That being said, the commentary track was your regular discussion about every topic related to the movie and a few digressions. The following observation isn't necessarily directed toward this track in particular but rather toward all DVD commentary tracks: more and more I'm starting to realize how well we used to live before such things came around and more and more, I'm starting to want to skip commentary tracks altogether. If JoBlo didn't reduce the bag of peanuts I get weekly for working on this site, I probably would too!

Donnie Darko Production Diary (with Optional Commentary by Director of Photography Steven Poster (52 mins): Interestingly enough, this film was shot in 28 days which [SPOILER AHEAD] coincides with the number of days Donnie is given by Frank in the film to save the world. This features chronicles the entire process of making this film from the location scouting through all 28 days of filming. It's pretty complete,  very informative and a must-see for diehards.

"They Made Me Do It Too" - The Cult of Donnie Darko (28 mins): Following the breakthrough success of the film, a bunch of fans were reassembled to make this feature in which they explain how DONNIE DARKO has effected their lives. Some of these nerds fans are quite genuine but a bunch are also quite pretentious and in all honesty, very out of touch with reality. They seem almost as brainwashed about this film as Larry Fishburne when he talks about THE MATRIX.

Storyboard-to-Screen Featurette (7 mins): A couple of scenes can be viewed in split-screen format with the storyboards and finished shot playing simultaneously.

#1 Fan: A Documentary (15 mins): Quite possibly the most pathetic site I've ever seen, this features a documentary by a fan made in the context of a competition run by the producers to discover DONNIE DARKO's biggest fan. They were encouraged to make a documentary on why they were such a big fan with the winner having his appear in this release of the DVD. Now this character who claims to be the #1 DONNIE DARKO fan (or as he calls it, Darkon Prime) is undoubtedly one of the biggest creeps I've ever seen. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a joke or something but it was more depressing than anything else watching a grown man ambush actors and filmmakers both in the street and at the San Diego Comic Con and boasting about the little decorations in his bedroom. It's the first time I had to get up and take a shower following a DVD. I just felt very soiled watching this spectacle unfold. I actually mentioned this one to Indiana Sev before writing this and he remembered people at the Comic Con being genuinely afraid o this guy as he walked around. Very creepy.

In addition to all this you'll find a Director's Cut Theatrical Trailer on the DVD.

 

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While this movie didn't redefine the space-time continuum in which I exist or set new boundaries to my thought on humanity, it was nonetheless a very entertaining movie and extremely original as well. I would highly recommend a purchase of this film since it has plenty of rewatch value and leaves you with many questions to ponder after the credits roll.
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