I watched this yesterday too. I took a vacation day, which was a good choice because it snowed all day and the roads were a mess. Also I caught a cold, so I am drinking hot chocolate with brandy in it and writing about movies.
I had let Donnie Darko sit on the shelf a long time. It looked to be one of those unpleasant films I have to be in the right mood for, and I thought this especially after I watched the disc with the extras. There are two versions on the disc, the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical. I watched the Theatrical. It turned out not to be so bad, because basically it is a teen movie and rather shallow, so it doesn’t put the view though much of anything. The main character is a teen with schizophrenia who has hallucinations related to the idea of time travel. In the end he reverses time and makes a whole series of unpleasant events which we see in the movie to not have happened by getting himself killed in the beginning. The point seems to be that it does not matter whether this was all in his head or was real, because you are not supposed to think like that.
So it is a movie for the everything is text and reality is constructed teen generation. The extras on the second disc try to bring this out, by presenting interviews with the fans, many of who are in England where the film reached cult status. Donny knows he is crazy and likes it. He has a manic grin when he going to do something he knows is crazy. The disc of extras that come with the movie is like the filmmakers manic grin. The makers are proud of the unbalanced teens who because obsessed with the film, and stalk the actors, etc. The English fans attribute the films popularity to their being much more sophisticated than Americans. But the movie isn’t sophisticated. One only has to watch with the commentary track on by the people who made the film. It is on the level of “Hey dude, remember that, it was cool, huh?”‘ Sometimes a movie hits a generation at a time when their cultural experience is echoed in the film to the extent that they feel it speaks for them. The English teens at the turn of the millennium happened to be at that point for this movie. Otherwise it is a teen movie: it has the Buddies, the Bully, the Girlfriend, the Dork Who Is Picked On, the Obnoxious Teacher That The Teenager Is Smarter Than, and so on.
For the fans Donny Darko is a superhero character. It does not matter if it is all in his head. The superhero no longer needs the meta-narrative of the planet Kripton, Jorel, and whatnot. It is just an experience he lives through and the choices he makes. If you watch it in Blu-ray maybe you can share enough to be a superhero too.