WEIRDLAND: "Donnie Darko" & "God Bless America" (Darko Entertainment)

Friday, June 01, 2012

"Donnie Darko" & "God Bless America" (Darko Entertainment)

Jake Gyllenhaal in "Donnie Darko" (2001) directed by Richard Kelly

"After the roaring success of its inaugural weekend last summer, Pop Up Screens is finally back with a fantastic line up of outdoor, open-air weekend screenings throughout the summer around London... where Bishop’s Park sees a trilogy of modern movies. Friday sees the interesting if confused Scott Pilgrim fighting through the seven evil exes of the object of his affections. Saturday things get violent with David Fincher’s Fight Club, before Sunday gets weird and wonderful with Donnie Darko. This is one that I can’t wait to experience outdoors. Darko captures a sense of time and place and creates a tone and atmosphere like few other movies manage." Source:

Jake Gyllenhaal (wearing a grey hoodie in "Donnie Darko" fashion) filming "An Enemy" (On Set in Toronto, May 31, 2012)

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone and director Richard Kelly on the set of "Donnie Darko" (2001)

Donnie Darko's director Richard Kelly has planned to start filming in Corpus Christi and Austin this summer for the aptly-titled movie Corpus Christi, according to Joe M. Connell's blog. The movie is about a mentally unstable Iraq War veteran who becomes friends with his boss and politcially ambitious supermarket chain owner. Variety reported that Edgar Ramirez (Carlos) is set to star in the movie, financed by Robert Rodriguez's Quick Draw Productions. Source:

Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), Gretchen (Jena Malone) at the cinema with Frank in "Donnie Darko" (2001)

Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) and Frank (Joel Murray) at the cinema in "God Bless America" (2011)

Starring Joel Murray and Tara Lynne Barr, GOD BLESS AMERICA is a Darko Entertainment production written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, and produced by Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta. GOD BLESS AMERICA is the second collaboration between Goldthwait, Darko and Magnolia/Magnet, who released "World’s Greatest Dad" in 2009 (official press release for Magnet’s acquisition of "God Bless America").

Producer Richard Kelly and writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait at the "World's Greatest Dad" premiere during the 11th annual CineVegas film festival on June 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bob Goldthwait Holds Mirror to American Society in "God Bless America":

"Frank is Goldthwait’s darkest thoughts manifested. He even incorporates parts of his stand-up routine into the dialogue, such as a desire to rig telephones so every time someone voted on ‘American Idol Superstarz’, a mark would be burned into the side of their face and he would know who to avoid talking to." Source:

Tara Lynne Barr as Alice in "Wonderland" on stage (2010)

If you follow the parallel-universe theme but do not like the religious reading, you might see Frank as simply analogous to the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. The White Rabbit had some scheduling concerns ("I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date") and led Alice down to a bizarre alternative world. Like the White Rabbit, Frank is under time constraints, having only 28 days to get Donnie with the program. And when he first leads Donnie out to the local golf course, scene of Donnie's first vision of him, one could say that Frank has inserted Donnie into the spiral of a new time/space dimension, just as the White Rabbit did for (to) Alice. In short, rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland is wormhole in Donnie Darko, and both access a new reality.

Frank The Rabbit: What does the rabbit mean? That depends on how you interpret the movie. If you think that the film is a serious exploration of physical/metaphysical reality, you're apt to see Frank as a kind of rabbit-angel. His role is to guide a reluctant hero into becoming the instrument of God. In this reading, God wishes to save earth, and unfortunately (or not) this entails getting Donnie to commit criminal and destructive acts. Within this context, Frank's ugliness might be explained as the destructive side of salvation. Perhaps he is a monstrous rabbit in order to suggest that Donnie himself must become both prey/victim and a kind of spiritual predator.

If you're inclined to see Donnie as just a very disturbed teenager, then Frank is a tad more malicious. He embodies the dark, destructive side of Donnie, imagined as the flip side of the rabbit stereotype: ugly instead of cute, bizarre instead of familiar, destructive instead of reproductive, and so on. In this reading, Frank stands not just for the evil side in Donnie but in all of us. Source:


mermon said...

Thank you for that interesting post! I am huge fan of DonnieDarko. I would love to attend such an outdoor screening with more people loving the movie around.

Kendra said...

welcome, mermon! I consider myself one of the greatest fans of Donnie Darko ever! I hope some fans can attend this festival in London, it must be something else to watch the film outdoors, probably a very scary experience. have a good weekend xx