Making the syllabus for the course I'm teaching this fall, I decided to put in a science fiction movie instead of a fantasy movie for the scifi/fantasy unit. I figured that there had been plenty of fantasy films recently (and some sci fi ones, too, but probably not as well known).
I wanted to pick a children/YA sci fi movie that they probably hadn't seen, as well. I have a few of those. However, the one that won out in the end is the 1985 Simon Wincer film D.A.R.Y.L. (the synopsis at the AllMovie database). It stars Barret Oliver (at IMDB).
Here's the original trailer:
Here's what I really like about this film: science fiction is at its best when it uses something commonplace in a new way. In SF theory, they call that "cognitive estrangement": taking the common relationships and ideas of our world and making them new and strange in some way. Here, we have two different stories estranged: the adoption story, and the mental illness story. In some ways, there's also something of what abuse survivors go through, too--standing outside a "normal" childhood and observing to try to understand. Here, we examine these different childhood issues by having a character who looks enough like a child to pass, but is outside and has to examine and experiment. There's a scene where D.A.R.Y.L. has to figure out how to cuss that is absolutely hysterical.
There are a lot of other movies out there that do this (the Spielberg film A.I. was one of the other films I considered, as well as Ned Vizzini's novel Be More Chill). I'm thinking of an article at some point, maybe. We'll see.