D.A.R.Y.L. Movie Review

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Subscribe Mary Beth Hurt
Do guilty pleasures get any more guilty or any more pleasurable than 1985's D.A.R.Y.L., the famed robo-kid flick?

I think not.

D.A.R.Y.L. is technological nonsense, but it's a hell of a lot of fun on its road to feelin' good. Barret Oliver (long since vanished from the cinema scene) plays a young boy dropped off in the woods under mysterious circumstances. He's partially amnesiac, and after being discovered and taking up residence with a foster family, he soon reveals he's got amazing physical and (especially) mental powers. Fast forward to his inevitable pick-up by a clinically cold couple, who reveal the truth: Daryl isn't Daryl, he's D.A.R.Y.L., Data Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform. (This isn't a spoiler. It says so on the front of the DVD.) Army isn't happy that a robot kid has developed emotions, scientists can't cope with terminating a living being... escape and chase ensues.

Whew! The technology of D.A.R.Y.L. is absurd yet strangely compelling. But it's Daryl's interpersonal relationships that make it such a cotton candy winner. Daryl's little friend Turtle (Danny Corkill, who would later become infamous as the title character of Problem Child) gets the pair into trouble, teaches him a bit about the birds and the bees, and brings out his humanity. Daryl's relationship with his foster parents (especially Michael McKean in a very rare "straight" role) adds the necessary family element. Hell, I wished McKean was my dad after watching this movie.

Director Simon Wincer (Free Willy) does nice work blending technology, action, and family-friendly feel-goodness. Too bad the DVD is missing any kind of extras at all. Namely, I just want to know where I can adopt my own robot kid that will wash his own dishes.

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D.A.R.Y.L. Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG, 1985

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