Darko as a solid flick, but few will be able to give you an accurate story synopsis of the film's complex plot, or make sense of its endless reel of confusing Donnie Darko quotes. Ask that same proud film buff what Donnie Darko is about, and then watch as he hems and haws his way around the story synopsis. “It’s about time travel.” Or, “It’s about martyrdom.” Or, “It’s about a rag-tag team of ne’er-do-wells who put together a football team…Oh wait, that’s Little Giants.” Sure, these explanations might capture some of the film’s ongoing themes, but they lack the clarity of detail. The movie is entertaining and clever, yes, but some of the dialogue can confuse even the most astute film-lover.
“28 days…6 hours…42 minutes…12 seconds…That…is when the world…will end.” Early on, we see Donnie, the title character, interact with a character named Frank, who predicts the end of the world. Now this might be easy to chalk up to insanity, but the fact that Frank is a man wearing a bunny costume–a bunny costume with bad teeth,nonetheless–indicates that this information is important and that someone in the movie is crazy. Important, of course, it's the end of the world, but why not just the message? Why the bunny suit? Which brings us to our next confusing quote…
Donnie: "Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?" Frank: "Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?" Uh, okay Frank, but you totally didn't answer the question. Not only did you not answer the question, but you also used the question as a jumping point to pose an even more frustrating question. Man suit? What's that supposed to mean, Frank? Are we talking man suit like "Silence of the Lambs," or man suit like you are more than your skin?
"If the sky were to suddenly open up, there would be no law, there would be no rule. There would only be you and your memories." Dr. Lilian Thurman comes out with this pearl of infinite wisdom. It sounds nice, all dramatic with a flair for the poetic. It enjoys repetition on fan sites dedicated to the movie, which indicates that it means something important to the plot. And it certainly does. It means…it means…it means…wait a minute, what? Let's just imagine for a second that we live in an alternate universe like the one on Donnie Darko where time travel is a possibility, and there is a shared consciousness of experience that transcends the human body. If all that is true, why does the sky need to open up? What does that mean? Does it mean that literally, there is a hole torn in the ozone layer, or is it a reference foreshadowing the end of the movie that causes Donnie's demise? And if it's the latter (most probably), then why would that make any sense in the context of when she says it? Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief to understand the complexities of the time travel theories the movie presents, but does every character in the movie also have to speak in hyperbolic and frustratingly vague statements? Anybody else's brain hurt right now?
The solution to all this madness, of course, is simple: watch the movie. Remember it's the elaborate brainchild of a writer who painfully plotted out every minor detail of the movie's world, then enjoy it, but don't think too hard about piecing it together. Then watch a reality TV show, feel smart again, and call it a night.