Taglines: The kid next door is not who – or what – he seems to be.
“Daryl” (whose name is an acronym for “Data-Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform”) (Barret Oliver) is an experiment in Artificial Intelligence, created by the government. Although physically indistinguishable from an ordinary ten-year-old boy, his brain is actually a supersophisticated microcomputer with several unique capabilities.
These include exceptional reflexes, superhuman multitasking ability, and the ability to “hack” other computer systems. The D.A.R.Y.L. experiment was funded by the military, with the intention of producing a “super-soldier”. One of the original scientists has misgivings about the experiment and decides to free Daryl, but is killed in the process.
Daryl is found by an elderly couple and taken to an orphanage. He does not remember who or what he is. Though a normal pre-adolescent boy in most aspects, Daryl begins to exhibit extraordinary talents after he goes to live with foster parents Joyce (Mary Beth Hurt) and Andy Richardson (Michael McKean), including uncanny abilities at baseball, interaction with an ATM, and in playing Pole Position (where he can play and react faster than humanly possible).
He is also introduced to the neighbors of the Richardsons: Howie (Steve Ryan) and Elaine Fox (Colleen Camp) and their children Sherie (Amy Linker) and Turtle (Danny Corkill). As Daryl was raised in isolation, his social skills are quite limited. His friend Turtle, an unusually vulgar and obnoxious ten-year-old, helps him develop social skills.
However, just as the Richardsons have truly begun to form a bond with Daryl, their new-found happiness is shattered when the Government finds and returns him to the facility where he was created. Once there, his memory is restored and he is debriefed on the lessons he learned during his time with the Richardsons. Notable lessons include his decision to strike out at a baseball game, because “under certain conditions [relating with others], error was more efficient than maximum performance.”, and his subjective preference for chocolate over vanilla ice cream. Because Daryl has revealed a capacity for human emotions (including fear), the D.A.R.Y.L. experiment is considered a failure by the military and the decision is made that the project be “terminated”. Dr. Stewart (Josef Sommer), one of Daryl’s designers, decides to free Daryl so he can return to the Richardson family.
Unfortunately, despite the cooperation of Dr. Lamb (Kathryn Walker) in the escape, who was originally skeptical about Daryl’s humanity and had alerted the military to Daryl’s continued existence, they do not get away cleanly. When asked by the military to justify her complicity, Dr. Lamb offers a reformulation of the Turing Test: “General, a machine becomes human… when you can’t tell the difference anymore.”, implying that she is no longer certain that Daryl is not human.
D.A.R.Y.L. (or T.O.D in its delayed Russian release) is a 1985 American science fiction film which was written by David Ambrose, Allan Scott and Jeffrey Ellis. It was directed by Simon Wincer and stars Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill, and Josef Sommer. The original music score was composed by Marvin Hamlisch. The movie was filmed at Pinewood Studios and in Orlando, Florida and Dillsboro, NC.
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Starring: Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Kathryn Walker, Colleen Camp, Josef Sommer, Barret Oliver, Steve Ryan, Amy Linker, Ron Frazier
Screenplay by: David Ambrose, Allan Scott
Production Design by: Alan Cassie
Cinematography by: Frank Watts
Costume Design by: Shay Cunliffe
Music by: Marvin Hamlisch
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures (USA & Canada), Columbia Pictures (International)
Release Date: June 14, 1985, June 9, 1990 (Russian Federation)