The above synopsis tells you almost nothing regarding what Donnie Darko is REALLY about. Let’s just say that if you enjoy stories involving time travel, infomercial parodies, tangent universes, 80s new wave pop, arguments over free will versus predestination, obsessed pre-adolescent dance troupes, rabbit symbolism, the possible existence of God as an intelligent space-time continuum, and gratuitous discussions of Smurfs… and if you like all that encased in a layer of teen angst so thick and oppressive that you’ll begin to believe EVERY adolescent should have psychoactive antidepressants forcefully crammed down his/her throat… if you like all that, then you just might like Donnie Darko.
But you still probably won’t know what it’s all about.
Donnie Darko is so cryptic that the director felt compelled to spend almost the entire running time of the DVD commentary explaining the theories (scientific and speculative) behind each scene. And then, realizing that there are probably still things left unexplained, he invites you to visit the movie’s website where you can sift through page after page of multimedia presentations that will hopefully make everything clear. Which it doesn’t. Fortunately, the movie does give you enough information to figure out the basic premise of what’s happening to Donnie, enough so that when he’s faces his final decision, you understand exactly what the right thing for him to do is, even though it will come at a cost.
That’s kind of what Moses was trying to get across to the Israelites in this week’s reading while they were apparently whining (again) over what God was trying to teach them. “For this command that I enjoin on you today is not too mysterious and remote for you.” Moses exclaims, “It is not up in the sky, that you should say, 'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?' No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”
The words of Moses should carry even more weight today. What with the 73 books of the Bible, the 2,865 paragraphs of the Catechism, the 400+ apostolic constitutions and papal encyclicals, the dozens of documents from 21 ecumenical councils, etc., it’s easy for us Christians to get bogged down in doctrinal minutiae trying to figure out exactly what God wants from us. Of course, we should study and dig deep, God basically demands it. But as Jesus reiterates to the scholar of the law in the parable of the good Samaritan, our first duty is to simply live out the gospel through acts of charity to one another. All the other needed explanations will follow in due time.