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D.A.R.Y.L. on Blu-ray and DVD

Monday, 08 April 2019 11:53

A smartly-dressed boy called Daryl is discovered lost and alone in the middle of nowhere. Handed in to the authorities and apparently suffering from amnesia, the boy (Barret Oliver – “The Never Ending Story”, “Cocoon”) is fostered by Andy and Joyce Richardson, who soon realise that Daryl has particular gifts. How does he learn the piano and smash a baseball on his first attempt, never mind showing up his teachers at school.

Andy (Michael McKean – “This Is Spinal Tap”, Better Call Saul) and Joyce (Mary Beth Hurt – “Lady in the Water”, “The Age of Innocence”) become very attached to sweet-natured Daryl and fear that his biological parents may come knocking. When this eventually happens, their world gets turned upside down and Daryl’s very existence is put in jeopardy. Who is he and where did he come from?

“D.A.R.Y.L.” somehow passed me by on its original release back in the mid-1980s, though I was quite familiar with its eye-catching cover that adorned the shelves of my local Blockbuster store. Reminiscent of “ET – The Extra-Terrestrial”, the film follows a relatively predictable curve as Daryl learns about his new family and friends, and they slowly discover more about him before the inevitable threat arrives.

I cannot fault the film on the niceness scale, and it could barely be more family-friendly if it tried. However, unlike the aforementioned Spielberg classic, I found it hard to become very emotionally involved in the story. I cannot quite put my finger on why, but one factor is that Oliver’s central performance is by necessity quite wooden; perhaps he was simply too successful in his role, for which he won a Saturn award.

On the other hand, McKean and Hurt do their level best to inject drama and feeling into proceedings, the latter in particular giving a warm and naturalistic performance. A nice touch is when Joyce starts becoming frustrated because her son is so perfect he never needs his mother’s help.

The direction by Simon Wincer (“The Phantom”, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) is rather pedestrian, with very little excitement until the last 15 minutes or so. This leads up to a trite and unconvincing ending that might satisfy kids but certainly did not ring true for me. In more skilled hands and with a bit of story reworking this could have been a memorable film, but instead what we get is a passable one that fails to challenge the best in the genre.

There are no special features on the Blu-ray and DVD discs. The Blu-ray version reviewed boasts quality visuals, doing the occasional mountain backdrops justice.

“D.A.R.Y.L.” (1985) is released on 22 April on Blu-ray and DVD, courtesy of Fabulous Films. The main feature has a running time of 100 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £9.99 on DVD and £14.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2019 11:56