Monday, June 7, 2010

Fan-Boy Icon #16

This post might be considered timely because of the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but is oddly enough unrelated. I think we all know how behind the times I am, and certainly wont see that sand-fest for at least three years. I did just get to watch another film staring Jake Gyllenhaal; Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001).

This was one of those films that slipped by me, somehow. I don't know if I confused it with something else? Perhaps Meet Joe Black? Who knows... Fortunately, my string of internet film buddies led me to this one, and I am hooked. However, I am not sure why.

Donnie Darko is a troubled young boy with a mental disorder and a pill-happy psychiatrist. He is coming of age in that wonderful time in America when we were finally getting rid of Ronald Reagan, only to fall in the lap of George H.W. Bush and the continuation of institutional stupid. Darko's world is full of toe-the-line teachers and parents, and the abysmal self-help guru Jim Cunningham (Patrick Swayze). Being roughly Darko's age, I can appreciate the sense of Fascism the time fostered; do not question, do not step out of line, do not rock the boat.

Donnie is visited by a rabbit-suited being called Frank. Frank tells Donnie to do things, and those things are typically of benefit to young Darko. Donnie does not know what or who Frank is, though the creature claims to be a time-traveler, and says the world is going to end on Halloween. The countdown begins, and Donnie becomes more disturbed and disruptive as it approaches.

There are a lot of big names in this film. Aside from Jake, his sister Maggie appears as, well, his sister. Mary McDonnell plays Donnie's mother, and looks like she could be Jake and Maggie's mom. Patrick Swayze's slimy portrayal of Jim Cunningham is fun, as they make a lot of fun of Swayze's image. A young, not-so-chubby Seth Rogen plays one of the douche-bag cool kids. Drew Barrymore's Ms. Pomeroy is interesting. Wonderfalls fans will recognize Beth Grant as Marianne Marie Beattle from the "Muffin Buffalo" episode.

Now, as a review... I enjoyed this movie. It was fun visually. Gyllenhaal does a nice job with the character's personality flaws and sense of unbalance. It is very much a fairy tale, in the Brothers Grimm tradition. Things get ugly, and the ending is not so happy, yet not altogether sad. If you demand closure from your films, you might avoid this one. When the wife asked me "so, what was the point?" I could not quite describe it. They don't blow up the Death Star or bring the blue whale to the future to save the planet. It unfolds, and ends with either a button missing or one shoe untied; but not in a bad way.


Mickey Glitter said...

Glad you liked it - Katharine Ross portrayed the shrink and was a perfect nod not rocking the boat, vis a vis "The Stepford Wives." =) I will have to get my copy of this back from my mum and rewatch it. You've inspired me!

Darius Whiteplume said...

Ah, I did not realize that was her. It certainly would have added some spookiness to things.

If you're on Netflix, it is one of their on-demand videos too.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I hope I didn't hype it too much for you but it is one of those films I pick up something new from everytime I see it. I like that it doesn't answer all the questions for me - usually I want to be spoon fed but in this case I don't.

Darius Whiteplume said...

Nah, I liked it a lot. I probably try to get the wife to watch it.

Matt said...

I really enjoyed this movie as well had the chance to discuss it recently, as one of my coworkers finally took my recommendation to watch it.

I am frightened though, that there is a sequel. Any word on what thats all about?

Darius Whiteplume said...

The only thing I see is a straight-to-video release called S. Darko, but I didn't read much about it. Not sure what else they could do with it, but I have been wrong before. ;-)

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