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DVD Review HTF Review: D.a.r.y.l. (1 Viewer)

Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000


Studio: Paramount

Year: 1985

Rated: PG

Length: 100 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, anamorphically enhanced

Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French Mono

Subtitled in English, and Closed Captioned in English

Special Features: None

S.R.P. $14.99 USD

Release Date: October 19, 2004

D.A.R.Y.L. is a reworking of the classic Pinocchio, and has similarities with the later Spielberg film, A.I. It is about a boy (Barret Oliver) who is a sort of a living robot, only he doesn’t know it.

Having been picked up by social services after wandering alone, with no memory of who he was or of a family, Daryl is placed with a foster family (Michael McKean, Mary Beth Hurt). He has difficulty fitting in with his foster family, and nobody can quite put their finger on what the problem is.

Daryl excels in almost everything he does - his grades in school, video games, baseball - to an unnatural degree. When a couple show up and claim that Daryl is their son, the stage is set for the revealing of his super abilities.

Daryl’s “parents” take him to a top secret military base, where we find out that Daryl is a robot, and he was never meant to live in society. After having tasted real life, however, he becomes self aware and has emotional responses. The military wants to terminate the D.A.R.Y.L. project, and the boy. A scientist working on the team, however, has a different idea and attempts to reunite Daryl with his foster family.

This is the kind of film that has its heart in the right place, but it is so saccharine in delivery that it can be hard to take. If you can get by that, then this is a story that provides a lighter look at the Pinocchio story than either Pinocchio or A.I., and it is appropriate viewing for the family.

The Transfer
The anamorphically enhanced picture delivers pretty good detail for a film of this age, offering up good contrast and color. Black levels are somewhat inconsistent, but shadow detail is usually pretty good.

The picture exhibits a slight flicker, most noticeable in darker scenes. There is mild to moderate grain throughout, and there are occasional instances of mild banding, aliasing and moire.

A few of the darker night scenes have sort of a “reverse vignetting,” where the edges of the frame seem to glow unnaturally, and the center of the frame is properly exposed.

This isn’t a top notch transfer, but it’s okay for a bargain catalog title.

The sound is Dolby Digital Surround (2.0). the track is clean, with no hiss. Frequency response is pretty good, and there are some excellent surround effects, for a 2.0 track. Bass response is acceptable, but not aggressive.

Final Thoughts
This is a bare-bones, bargain catalog release from Paramount. The transfer isn’t without its problems, but it is acceptable as a bargain title. Look for this one in your local bargain bin.

Lee Jamilkowski

Stunt Coordinator
Jun 15, 2001
I remember this one from my youth. May have to think about picking it up.

I guess we should just be thankful that it's on DVD at all.


May 24, 2001
Real Name
I haven't seen this film in 15 years, but remember loving it. I look forward to hunting for it in the bargain bins.

Steve Bjorg

Stunt Coordinator
May 9, 2002
That's quite a surprise. I just recently looked up this title on IMDB. I recall liking it a lot as a kid. I'll most definitively give it a spin just to remind myself of how much my tastes have changed since then. :)

Sam H

Second Unit
Mar 8, 2003
That's odd the aspect ratio is only 1.85:1 because IIRC the Remastered WS Laserdisc version that came out a few years ago was 2.35:1

Does anyone know which is correct?


Jan 11, 2001
I am excited to pick this up. Silly me, I ordered this online thinking I would have a hard time finding it locally and when I went to Best Buy to get Hellboy, it was sitting there on a table right in front of the store!

Anyway, this, Explorers, and Flight of the Navigator were favorites of mine as a kid and I am glad that all 3 have finally come to DVD this year. Now all I need to complete my "childhood boy fantasy" movies is Cloak and Dagger and BMX Bandits!

Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000

While IMDB was right this time, they are not an accurate source for aspect ratios.

The aspect ratio of D.A.R.Y.L. is 2.35:1, confirmed. It's been corrected in the review. It was an editing error.

Stuff happens.


Antony James

Stunt Coordinator
Oct 9, 2001
Watched this last night for the first time in a decade. It holds up a lot better than I expected it to. Some genuinely funny bits from McKean and the kid who plays Turtle.

Joel Vardy

Supporting Actor
Oct 20, 1998
Picked this one up since I quite enjoy this film and genre. It does, however, beg the question about seeing bonified classics released from this studio before the window of opportunity disappears. I believe 2006 will probably see a drastic decline in such releases and several titles like the African Queen are not presently slated for 2005 (surprise me ...).


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