Cinimania Review of Daryl

By Roger Ebert Review from 'Cinimania'

They know there is something odd about the kid when he starts doing his own laundry. That's not natural for a grade-schooler. Daryl has some other strange attributes. He is unfailingly polite, obsessively honest, and bats 1.000 in Little League. Finally his friend, Turtle, pulls him aside and explains that adults don't like it when a kid is too perfect. It makes them nervous. They need to connect with him so they can relax around him. Daryl nods gravely, and his next time at bat he strikes out.

Daryl's history is stramge, he was discovered by the side of the road, a neatly dresses little boy with amnesia. He is placed with a foster family, and by halfway through the move D.A.R.Y.L. he is begginning to develope into a more typical kid, with real human emotions. That is against the game plan, unfortunately, because Daryl is both more and less than human. He is a prototype of a secret government attempt to combine a computer brain with a genetically cloned body, creating a humanoid who can use his five senses as input for his silicon mind.

D.A.R.Y.L. is sort of Charly in reverse. Instead of a retarded man who is allowed through science, to have a brief glimpse of what it would be like to be normal, what we have here is a super-intelligent thinking machine who gets a taste of being a real little boy. It is an intriguing premise, and the movie handles it with skill. The boy is played by Barret Oliver with an earnest, touching, solemnity. The people around him (including Mary Beth Hurt and Michael Mckean) are out of a Norman Rockwell drawing, laving, generous, loyal. His best friend Turtle (Daniel Corkill) is tactful in trying to get this odd kid to act normal.

Tacked onto this small-town story, the details of the intrigue seem almost unnecessary. The movie contains the usual hard-nosed military men, visionary scientists, and officious cops. They've lost track of their expensive D.A.R.Y.L., and want to find him and deprogram him.


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