Back to Main Page Back to Articles

Ainít It Cool


Thursday, November 9, 2000

Disturbed takes a look at DONNIE DARKO

Hey folks, Harry here.... I hailed this script YEARS ago as being a superior work needing to be filmed and produced. In an amazingly joyful moment of Hollywood sanity... it got picked up. In fact, one of Hollywood's 'hottest' producers of the moment... DREW BARRYMORE was the one that picked it up and helped give it the well deserved look it needed. Between this and CHARLIE'S ANGELS... Drew Barrymore's past producing faux pas are now behind her.... And she has BARBARELLA to look forward to, in which she'll allegedly be the daughter or grand-daughter of the original BARBARELLA... Here's Disturbed....

I've already written this. I finished and I'm adding this at the top. What I'm going to say here is: I'm not really happy with this review. I've found myself sort of at a loss as to what to write about this script, other than how much I enjoyed it. I think it's a very solid piece of work. Unnerving at times. Characters well-defined. The plot ties up nicely in a "twist" (if you can really call it that) that I didn't see coming. But I digress. The point is, I'm not happy with this article. Read on, however. Hopefully you'll like it a bit better.

I was sent the Donnie Darko script a long time ago. It had five pages missing. I had been enjoying the script so much up until that point that I decided I didn't want to skip anything and I'd wait for someone to send me the missing pages. So I asked some people, and I waited. One sent them and the mail never came through. Etc, etc, etc. Finally the fates smiled on me and I got the missing pages. Shooting's already wrapped on the film, and I think it'll even start screening soon...but what will a script review hurt?

So, what did I think of it? Can I see why Harry posted an article about it so long ago? Yes I can.

You should already know the basic premise by now. It takes place in 1988. 14 year old Donnie Darko is fairly normal in most aspects, he just isn't quite right. He's very bright, if lazy in school. He wants to fuck Alyssa Milano. Pretty normal. A lot like me. Haw.

He also sleepwalks. He spent time in a juvenile detention center for arson. He goes to a therapist. He takes medication. Just a little off.

He grabs a magic marker and sleepwalks out to the seventh green of a nearby golf course one night, to find a man in a bunny suit waiting for him. The bunny suit is rather grotesque and covered in blood. The bunny's name is Frank. Frank tells Donnie he's living on borrowed time. 28 days, 5 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. The next morning Donnie wakes up, still out on the golf course, to find that a 1000 pound jet engine from an overhead plane had fallen and crashed into his room. He finds that he's written on his arm "28:05:42:12." He should be dead.

Frank appears to him several more times. Frank tells him to do things. In addition to this, Donnie struggles to figure out what's going on. The script deals with the nature of time. God. Fate. I don't want to give away much more, as you should really go into the film fairly clean.

This is one of those films that you hope for. It won't do a lot of box office, it will probably find a nice audience on video...and it's just GOOD. It's small, and really fucking good. It's untainted by the studios. It's one of those pure film geek films.

As I read the script, I couldn't help but picture Schwartzman in the role. He's perfect. Except...he's too old. He was replaced by Jake Gyllenhaal, but guess what? He's about the same age as Schwartzman. The script is really written for a character more 14 than 16 or 18 or 20. I hope Gyllenhaal can look young enough.

Now, The Evil Harvey sounds sort of silly, and even humorous. But it's not. This script has some very, very funny moments, most of them pretty dark comedy, but it is not a comedic film. The tone is serious, and even unsettling. A script is in its execution. You could have the best idea in the world, and if you don't execute it right it's not worth anything. That is what impressed me about this script. The story is handled very well, very deftly.

I really hope this film gets a wide, or at least semi-wide release. I'd love to see it in the theatre. I'd also love for the DVD to have a director's commentary. I imagine, for some reason, that it'd be quite interesting. The writer/director, Richard Kelley, worked for a long time to get this film made. It's obviously a labor of love, and I can't wait to see it.

We'll see how it all goes.

-Disturbed