This is not a review, but a discussion, a score at the end will not be given, but I will look at what makes a film, and why this makes it so. This is entirely made out of opinions, and wikipedian facts will not get in the way of the feelings of my gut. Without any further ado, what makes it a film worth watching.
Donnie Darko is a romantic film, dealing with the issues of predestination as well as far less important issues like how the Smurfs live without dicks. This is all wrapped up in the cover of a psychological thriller, but given Frank's line "Why are you wearing that stupid man suit" it would seem that appearances are not nearly as important as the actual substance behind it. This results in a cult classic of a film, much beloved by audiences who never saw it.
The music used in the film varies a huge amount, just like the content, with frequent switches between the insane drama of a paranoid schizophrenic and the exploits of an ordinary teenage boy. The most memorable image in the film is one iconic to its persona, the rabbit, Frank. This image will certainly outlast the film it comes from, even though it is intelligent beyond what many films of the decade are. But that damn bunny will haunt the dreams and nightmares of a generation, much like the clown in It did for the previous. Incidentally the mother in the film is reading the novel of It, a nice little pop culture shout out, one of many in the film.
But the real issue dealt with is that of free will, and predestination, and what the hell does God, or a god have to do with any of it. Donnie plays the role of cynic, insane, but he knows it. The rest of the world appears relatively sane, but underneath that bunny suit lies only pain and death. This is the message, if, given the opportunity, you would sacrifice yourself, and the known, for an unknown never to be known by you. This is key to the romance between Donnie and Gretchen, as there is never a perfect option given, one of them has to die.
The seinfeldian conservations occurring at the earlier parts of the film stand at an utter contrast to the insanity of the end as the deadline draws ever closer. 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. An insignificant number for a significant film. All it really adds up to is 82. The multilayered story involving a short story studied not quite detailing Donnie's past adventures, and a book hinted to explain everything explaining nothing to the audience. The knowledge of misinformation is key to the discussion of predestination, if we know are destinies and follow them, are we any different than the ignorant masses who don't know and follow them still? This is never fully answered, as nothing really is, but encourages thinking, something woefully devoid in many films.
And allow me to leave on a positive note, not involving the death of a good portion of a family, nor a love, nor a friend. But a few simple words which affect know one, meaning nothing and yet oh so very much. It's all about the cellar door. A couple of words that form a couplet, and which describe a gateway to a new place, or just a few words which sound mighty nice. So the portal opens, and the portal closes, and at the end all you're really left with is a cellar door.
Score: One fucked up bunny, one fucked up kid, and one fucked up life. Best romantic comedy of the decade.