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Donnie Darko

It's too bad that 26-year-old Richard Kelly's touching and audacious indie, Donnie Darko, didn't find its audience at the box office. This blackly comic science-fiction-teen-romance-1980s-satire about an emotionally troubled high-schooler who receives apocalyptic warnings from a nightmarish, six-foot, metal-faced bunny rabbit from the future has "cult hit" written all over it. (Kelly calls it "Holden Caulfield resurrected in 1988 by the spirit of Phillip K. Dick"). Although flawed, it's one of the more interesting debuts from a first-time filmmaker in a decade that also sports M. Night Shyamalan, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Think of it as a brother in tone to 12 Monkeys and Being John Malkovich, or a cross between John Hughes and David Lynch after they've just screened Rushmore, Magnolia, and Harvey. Fine performances abound, particularly from Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie), Jena Malone (the girl who provides his first love), Drew Barrymore (the sympathetic teacher and the movie's executive producer), Mary McDonnell and Holmes Osborne (Donnie's parents), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie's sister, and Jake's real-life sister). The musical score, featuring mindful use of '80s pop releases, is surprisingly terrific. This 20th Century Fox DVD comes well loaded with superb Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround audio options, two good scene-specific audio commentary tracks, 20 deleted/extended scenes, the "Mad World" music video, a Website Gallery of stills, pages from Kelly's plot-crucial The Philosophy of Time Travel, an Art Gallery, soundtrack CD liner notes, fluffy "Cunning Visions" Infomercials, extensive Cast and Crew information, the theatrical trailer, and five TV spots. Keep case.
—Mark Bourne

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