Donnie Darko

2001 R 1h 53m DVD

Donnie Darko

2001 R 1h 53m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
Writer-director Richard Kelly's trippy, mind-bending feature debut stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a troubled Midwestern teenager plagued by incessant sleepwalking, family drama and visions of a menacing 6-foot-tall, doomsday-prophesying rabbit.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Beth Grant, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Patrick Swayze, Katharine Ross, Noah Wyle, Daveigh Chase, Arthur Taxier, Stuart Stone, Seth Rogen, Ashley Tisdale
Richard Kelly
Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 17+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 17+
age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that much swearing (from all ages) and sex talk represents the generally anti-establishment viewpoint of the hero here: an angry, possibly mentally ill teen. Classroom vandalism (apparently committed by the hero under some sort of spell) and profane disrespect of teachers and authority-figure adults is part of the plot, and not exactly frowned upon. There is teen sex (non-explicit), references to pornography, and violent death at the end.

Sexual Content

Donnie and his new girlfriend have sex, though nothing is shown. Discussion of sex and (non-clinical) child pornography. A nude woman in a painting briefly glimpsed.


A character fatally shot in the eye (appearing in bloody, ghostly form). Another character fatally run over by an automobile. Fistfights between teens, knife pulled on the hero. Gore is more extreme on the DVD "extras" and the Director's Cut.


"F--k," "s--t," and "bitch" (son says this to his mother).

Social Behavior

We never get clinical details info on Donnie's emotional instability -- he may be delusionally schizophrenic, a defiant kid mistreated by The System, or both -- but the film is clearly on his side, as a smart and unappreciated boy. More than it is on the side of the people he scorns and hurts, like an upbeat gym teacher or a gung-ho motivational speaker. Donnie (possibly in a trance state) commits vandalism and sabotage and even murder, though you can argue that he sacrifices himself in the end to undo all that and save others. Donnie's parents, despite all the family and social dysfunction, have a solid and loving relationship.


There is an obscene teen discussion of the sex life of Smurfs (Donnie turns out to be a huge fan). A plug for the Stephen Hawking book A Brief History of Time and a certain national video-store chain.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Teens and adults smoke cigarettes. Donnie is supposed to take prescription pills for his emotional problems.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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