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Donnie Darko Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 38

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Just another self-absorbed teen chronicle, with the added twist of a little time travel and a surprise ending.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Donnie Darko is the one that got away. But it was fun trying to land it.

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  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Kelly, the 26-year-old writer-director of this excitingly original indie vision, shares more artistically with Wes Anderson or Paul Thomas Anderson than he does with Spielberg or John Hughes, but the point is, he's out on his own here. He swings big -- with flair.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Winningly edgy teen-angst sci-fi tragicomedy.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that much swearing (from all ages) and sex talk represents the generally anti-establishment viewpoint of the hero here: an angry, possibly mentally ill teen. Classroom vandalism (apparently committed by the hero under some sort of spell) and profane disrespect of teachers and authority-figure adults is part of the plot, and not exactly frowned upon. There is teen sex (non-explicit), references to pornography, and violent death at the end.

  • Families can talk about what in the twisty plot is "real" or not, and whether the "philosophy of time travel" holds up. Could this whole story all be the result of delusional Donnie not taking his medication, as his family complains at the start? Did Donnie ever have control over the events that unfold?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: We never get clinical details info on Donnie's emotional instability -- he may be delusionally schizophrenic, a defiant kid mistreated by The System, or both -- but the film is clearly on his side, as a smart and unappreciated boy. More than it is on the side of the people he scorns and hurts, like an upbeat gym teacher or a gung-ho motivational speaker. Donnie (possibly in a trance state) commits vandalism and sabotage and even murder, though you can argue that he sacrifices himself in the end to undo all that and save others. Donnie's parents, despite all the family and social dysfunction, have a solid and loving relationship.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: A character fatally shot in the eye (appearing in bloody, ghostly form). Another character fatally run over by an automobile. Fistfights between teens, knife pulled on the hero. Gore is more extreme on the DVD "extras" and the Director's Cut.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Donnie and his new girlfriend have sex, though nothing is shown. Discussion of sex and (non-clinical) child pornography. A nude woman in a painting briefly glimpsed.

  • language false3

    Language: "F--k," "s--t," and "bitch" (son says this to his mother).

  • consumerism false3

    Consumerism: There is an obscene teen discussion of the sex life of Smurfs (Donnie turns out to be a huge fan). A plug for the Stephen Hawking book A Brief History of Time and a certain national video-store chain.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Teens and adults smoke cigarettes. Donnie is supposed to take prescription pills for his emotional problems.