Donnie Darko
***.4 GM
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Duval, Patience Cleveland, Mary McDonnell, Katharine Ross, Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, Holmes Osborne, Daveigh Chase, Seth Rogen

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Dude. Freaky.

This is a film most folks, myself included, are going to have to see twice in order to make sure they've got it all figured out, down pat and comprehended, because I'm certainly not sure I caught everything the first time 'round. Luckily, it's a pretty interesting film, so seeing it twice shouldn't be too much of a chore.

You've got Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal), a disturbed kid in late 1980s suburbia trying to figure out what's wrong with him, since he keeps seeing a guy in a creepy bunny suit telling him the world's going to end on a certain date, among other things. His family is affable enough, but they're having a hard time relating to each other due to political idelology - his sister (Maggie Gyllenhaal) threatens to vote for Dukakis and his father (Holmes Osborne) gets perturbed about it - and general abrasive behavior between siblings that troubles his mom (Mary McDonnell). He tries to live a normal life, finagle a galpal (Jena Malone), go to school, etc., but he keeps getting harassed by thug losers at school as well as the urges to do naughty things and mouth off in class to insipid teachers (Beth Grant) and their motivational gurus (Patrick Swayze), burn houses down, what-have-you, at the behest of Frank - the aforementioned bunny-suit guy. Obviously, the medication isn't helping.

Then a jet engine falls out of the sky and crushes Donnie's room - luckily Frank told him to go sleepwalking and sleep in the middle of the road miles away. That signals the start of the countdown to the end of the world, leaving us to wonder just what's happening and whather or not Donnie is actually sick or if he's onto something the rest of us can't ever see.

Dude, it's trippy, dude. DUDE. Unsettling imagery, mysterious effects and creepy mental disintegrations blend with funny dialog, interesting characters and spectacular insanity to create a truly weird mindfuck of a flick. It's part sci-fi, part satire and part suspensey-horrorish sort of thing. But it's good, if a bit troubling to the peace of mind. Nothing viciously mind-scarring, mind you, but enough to make you think something's up that you haven't been fully briefed about, but you're being sent into the war zone anyway to parse it all out.

Or, dude, maybe I'm just a dumbass, dude. Dude.

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