Thursday, January 22, 2004

Well. The recommendation from four girls finally added up; last night I watched Donnie Darko with my sister.

It was predicted by two girls that I would not enjoy it as much now that it had been built up by being recommended so often. I can't say for sure anything about that but I know I did enjoy the movie.

In a lot of ways, it felt like an old Steven Spielburg movie. The interaction amongst the Darko family was both weird and realistic in the way the interaction of the family in E.T. was. Since the movie takes place in the late 80s, you even sort of feel that Elliot's family might live a few blocks away.

There was a scene near the climax that was extremely evocative of E.T.--when Donnie, acting funny, tells Gretchen that they must go somewhere now and they automatically take off on bicycles and his two buddies automatically follow on their bikes. And it's Halloween.

Mainly an enjoyable film. It's only flaw is that the whole seems to be less than the sum of its parts. A series of very interesting or weird situations with good characters (mostly)(I didn't like the overweight girl who got booed in the school play. She was too After School Special). But by the end, it just seems to about how cool Donnie Darko is and how sad it was. Which was fine, although the movie doesn't become a masterpiece like some of the David Lynch and Steven Spielburg movies it paid homage to. And I will say homage, and not "ripped off from," because there was genuine respect and creativity.

Another flaw in the movie was Patrick Swayze's character. Well, maybe not a flaw as he did fulfill his function...well, no, yes! I will say flaw because it bothered me that his self-help video was more simplistic than the annoying self-help stuff in real life. It's true that one of the problems with self-help stuff in real life is that it is too simplicistic but Swayze's was lacking the veneer to make us believe people could plausibly become obsessed with it. If he had been Wane Dyer or Anthony Robbins, then Donnie's reaction to him would have been far more satisfying. As it is, it works because you want to cheer for Donnie, but it's strained.

Swayze's character reminded me of Tom Cruise's character in Magnolia and, perhaps unfortunately, it reminded me that Tom Cruise did a much better job with it.

I really liked Gretchen. Am I old enough for it to be sick for me to lust after her? I'm still only twenty-four. Not officially twenty-five until April. I'm still young! ish! Anyway, the actress is probably thirty.

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