JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME – FILE #0069 – D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Directed By: Simon Wincer 
Written By: David Ambrose, Allan Scott & Jeffrey Ellis 
Cinematography: Frank Watts 

Cast: Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill, Amy Linker, Kathryn Walker, Colleen Camp, Josef Sommer, Ron Frazier, Steve Ryan, Hardy Rawls 

A young boy is found wandering without any memory of who he is. A family takes him in and begin to look for clues to help him find his way home. In the meantime, they notice that the boy seems to have certain special abilities, not usually found in kids his age, or even fully-grown adults.


This film is a hidden gem. One that has a special place with me. It immediately takes me to a special place. Some might call it nostalgia, but some might call it a breakthrough 

I will admit this is a film I loved when I was a kid and watched quite a bit with the film CLOAK & DAGGER. I am quite glad it still holds up.

This was the film that introduced me to how great Michael McKeon is as an actor. While watching this film I admired his performance. as he reminded me of mine. 

As this film is more of a family film but it is also a science fiction film that doesn’t talk down to the audience. As it involves technology that is advanced and comes off a bit like wishful thinking or a fantasy, it still feels plausible.

Even as it seems much more aimed at a younger audience. It has a story and characters that any member of the family or any age can identify with. 

Though not an Amblin movie it feels like one as it has wish-fulfillment galore throughout including an ending where a kid flies a jet. It also doesn’t talk down to kids. It’s not goofy or stupid at all and shows children being natural having Adventures making mistakes and even being in danger. Keep in mind this was made in the 1980s so even for a family film it has some course yet innocent use of language. 

While the film is science fiction it doesn’t drag The film down into it. The film here is more about emotions and being human. All that is decent and good. Of course, the military comes off as the villains to a certain degree and the scientists slowly learn to have hearts with their inventions and discovery. 

I will admit to a small bias as this film to me is charming as hell and as it goes along with Daryl learning and getting used to his surroundings. While gathering information and forming emotions. We are kind of brought into that world and learn as he learns. Even though we already know some things.

It also gives plenty of time and scenes to the adults of the film and their reactions to him and his behavior. How it feels at times to deal with a kid who comes across as too perfect that he doesn’t even seem to need them or seems more advanced and emotionally distant from them. 

Though the film does include the usual kid hijinks and mistakes of turn of phrases and blurting out information and secrets at the wrong time. 

It also seems partially an allegory though maybe not meant. A kind of film for children who are autistic or feel that way. Also, a film That tries to dramatize what it might feel like to be a parent of one.

Grade: A

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