D.A.R.Y.L.

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
D.A.R.Y.L. Movie Poster Image
'80s robot-becomes-human story falls flat.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family are the people who love you and care for you, and it's worth fighting to stay together. Friends stay loyal and help each other through thick and thin.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Daryl is always polite and helpful. He's very concerned about others' feelings and will do anything for his family's happiness. Turtle is a loyal friend who helps Daryl navigate new surroundings. Daryl's foster parents are loving and patiently teach Daryl and are anxious to adopt him permanently. The bad-guy scientist comes to appreciate Daryl's capacities and is willing to make sacrifices for him.

Violence

A man deliberately drives himself over a cliff, fatally crashing. A gunshot wound is shown with blood; large spots of blood are seen on surgical scrubs. Law enforcement and military personnel fire guns and rifles. A car chase involves several crashes. One sad death scene is not gory.

Sex

Two quick kisses, one on the cheek.

Language

"Hell" on a bumper sticker, "Chrissake," "pecker," and "damn" once each. A couple uses of "s--t" and "ass." "Hooker" several times. A child imagining two teens making out says, "He's practically raping her except that she's letting him."

Consumerism

Kids seen playing Pole Position without the title being shown but with one mention of the title. Coke mentioned once or twice.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of past incident spiking children's Cokes with vodka, which turned out to be water.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that D.A.R.Y.L. is a fairly gentle science-fiction movie with strong messages about caring, friendship, and family togetherness. It has a few instances of strong language, including "ass" and "s--t" used a couple of times each. One gunshot wound is seen with blood, and large bloodstains are seen on surgical scrubs once. A few car chases have crashes, one of which is clearly fatal to the driver, a minor character, who drives himself off a cliff.

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What's the story?

Daryl (Barret Oliver), a young boy suffering from amnesia, is placed in foster care with the Richardsons (Michael McKean, Mary Beth Hurt) until his parents can be found. The Richardsons notice some peculiar things about Daryl, such as his amazing ability to hit home runs and the fact that he keeps his bedroom spotlessly clean, but they quickly grow to love him for his earnest, caring ways. When his real parents are eventually found, Daryl is whisked away from the people he's grown to love and taken to a high-security military facility, where the truth about his past is revealed. Meanwhile, the Pentagon staff responsible for the D.A.R.Y.L. experiment decide it's time to end it -- and to put an end to Daryl, too. Can he escape and make his way back to the only real family he knows?

Is it any good?

D.A.R.Y.L. is a movie with its heart in the right place that almost succeeds where it counts but never really delivers genuine emotion. The script is flat and relies on overly broad strokes that lack realism to lay out the story. It also leans heavily on cliché to get through the quieter, personal moments we know the veteran cast is capable of delivering when the material is there.

Big kids will get some laughs out of Daryl's relationship with best friend Turtle, who schools him in the ways of kid-dom, and they'll easily relate to Daryl thanks to Barret Oliver's surprisingly charming performance. But they may get restless as the plot drags on, especially in the third act, which takes too long to resolve without delivering much in the way of action or suspense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why movies about robots are so popular. Why do we find them so fascinating?

  • Do you agree that "a machine becomes human when you can't tell the difference anymore"?

  • Do you think robots that could pass for human might really exist some day? Do you think we should try to develop that kind of technology? Why, or why not?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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