The cult that's assembled around 2001's Donnie Darko, which gets the Film on the Rocks treatment on Wednesday, August 12, seems motivated more by the size of writer/director Richard Kelly's ambitions than by the goals he actually achieves. Simply put, the story of a troubled teen (Jake Gyllenhaal during his Bubble Boy period) and a guy in a bunny suit is a mess, albeit a stylish and unusual one. The plot, an apocalyptic mélange of alienation and time travel, abandons both linearity and logic early on — a problem exacerbated by Kelly's still-developing command of the medium (Donnie marked his feature debut, released when he was just 26). Moreover, the generally gloomy tone plays havoc with occasional attempts at humor, and the casting of familiar faces in atypical roles — Patrick Swayze as a local celebrity/child-porn fan? — underscores the forced nature of the entire enterprise. That said, the thousands of folks who'll show up to hoot along with the proceedings should improve the film immeasurably. But brace yourself when Ronald (Stuart Stone) says, "Beer and pussy. That's all I need."
The Darko evening, which also includes a performance by Bad Luck City, gets under way at 6:45 p.m. at Red Rocks Amphitheatre; tickets are $10. Learn more at 303-595-3456 or www.denverfilm.org. — Michael Roberts