Features TV/Movies

Ron’s Random Reviews: Donnie Darko


First off, allow me to offer my apologies for the delay. I said I would do these random reviews monthly and my last review was nearly two months ago. When I made a poll of possible movies to do next, Donnie Darko won overwhelmingly. People even went out of their way to say “You HAVE to see this” or “I know you’re going to love it”. Since I’m often (incorrectly) branded as the guy who hates everything, the push for this movie really worried me. It sat in both my Netflix and Kanopy watch lists for weeks. I would click, wait five minutes, then think “Nope, not in the mood”. Rinse and repeat for two months.

Well, I finally watched the movie. More accurate sentence: I finally attempted to watch the movie. My first attempt ended midway through the movie because I started looking on Amazon for French press coffee makers. After days of saying I was done with this movie, I was finally pushed to finish it by the rest of the team.

Full disclosure, I have no desire to actually review this movie. I think it was horrible. Time-lapse after time-lapse. Using an 80s soundtrack to mine for nostalgia. An angsty teen movie with a dash of science fiction. Think about another movie you loved as a kid. Have you watched it recently and realized it wasn’t that good? It’s this movie. [Sidenote: My movie to fit this category is Face/Off.] So instead of reviewing this very horrible, no-good movie, I would rather talk about something interesting.

When I got the idea for Random Reviews, the criteria was “Classics or culturally significant movies I’ve never seen before”. This movie is far from a classic, although one could argue it’s a cult classic. It’s definitely culturally significant due to something I see today. If I were to draw a hypothesis as to why people like this movie, it would be the same reason why people like a current TV show I abhor, which is Westworld. After each episode of Westworld, viewers rush to Reddit to solve the riddles. The show itself isn’t the main draw, it’s the mystery. One has to not only be invested in the mystery, but they have to also enjoy solving it as a community.

This movie was very straightforward to me. Yaddi yaddi yadda, alternate universe, yaddi, yaddi, yadda, time travel, yaddi, yaddi, yadda, what if your memories are fragments of a different existence. But to figure out why people loved this movie so much, I took to Google. Here I found threads upon threads of theories that list terms such as Tangent Universe, The Artifact, and The Living Receiver. Was there any mention of this in the movie? Nope. After reading, I found these bits of information came from DVD commentary and a website where director/writer Richard Kelly posted pages of The Theory of Time Travel.

Now, this experience seems very similar to my time spent surfing forums for The Matrix analysis and my current experience with Mr. Robot. Long story short, this movie was pretty bad but I’m left with the impression that this is the godfather of Reddit culture. If nothing else, that’s pretty impressive. Whether it’s a craze like Serial podcast or live-tweeting a TV show, media gain popularity when it exists outside the medium. Watching or listening gives you the desire to talk about it with someone else. Next, a community is formed. These communities are beholden to their common bond. They will go to any length to protect it. For instance, The Matrix is nearly old enough to legally drink but I will still dropkick you if you badmouth it. Going forward, I will do the same for Mr. Robot.

So yes, I see why this movie is beloved but I think it’s a “you had to be there” moment. I wasn’t there, so I think it’s pretty bad at my age.

To all you who told me I would love this movie, I want an apology in the form of a French press.

Next up on Ron’s Random Reviews:

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Heat
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Bourne Trilogy (Yes, the trilogy. No, not the movie with Jeremy Renner.)

Also, if you have any suggestions, hit me up at @KWCBlog.

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