In Defense Of Donnie Darko?

Last week, I made the unpopular statement that I think Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) is bad at making movies. Obviously, we are all entitled to our opinion, but based on some of the comments received, I am a little less entitled to my opinion than fans of Richard Kelly’s work. Actually, let’s clarify, I am less entitled to my opinion than fans of Donnie Darko, because clearly no one is arguing in defense of Southland Tales. Now, while I do not understand why it should bother anyone that I am not a fan of this movie, since surely we can find common ground on something else, and if you like it why does it matter that someone else doesn’t, not to mention the fact that if it’s really as great as you say it is, I will ultimately look like a fool (in the future, when Donnie Darko is named President of All Movies).

But here is the thing: I have not yet heard an argument of what makes Donnie Darko a good movie.

My claim is that, while it has a good soundtrack, and Jake Gyllenhaal is passably if not annoyingly moody, the movie ultimately relies on plot devices cooked up by someone who’s read one too many O. Henry short stories for their high school class on How To Be Clever. When the movie ended I was just left with the all-too-familiar sinking feeling of “that’s it?” And I don’t really enjoy movies where filmmakers employ a meaningless visual (man dressed in spooky bunny costume) just because they think it looks cool and that’s it. If that’s the extent of your thinking on the subject, I think that you need to work a little harder and find a cool visual that also moves the plot forward, or echoes the deeper themes of the movie (the movie should have deeper themes), or does SOMETHING.

Now, I could see someone picking apart my argument really easily. It’s not particularly complicated, and I’m not very smart. And ultimately it really boils down to the simple fact that I didn’t like it, which is not a big deal. But at least I tried to make an argument. At least I pointed out things that I did not like and gave reasons for it. The only arguments I’m hearing in favor of Donnie Darko can best be summed up by the comment left by Joe: “fuck you, richard kelly is great.”

Will someone please tell me why this movie is good? Seriously, I want someone who likes the movie to actually tell me why they like it. I’m genuinely curious. I’m sure there are good reasons for liking it that revolve around the actual movie and not around how much I suck as a person and am so stupid for not agreeing.