6.7/10
56,351
114 user 37 critic

Short Circuit (1986)

PG | | Comedy, Family, Sci-Fi | 9 May 1986 (USA)
Trailer
1:49 | Trailer
Number 5 of a group of experimental robots in a lab is electrocuted, suddenly becomes intelligent, and escapes.

Director:

John Badham
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Popularity
1,426 ( 1,339)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ally Sheedy ... Stephanie Speck
Steve Guttenberg ... Newton Crosby
Fisher Stevens ... Ben Jabituya
Austin Pendleton ... Howard Marner
G.W. Bailey ... Skroeder
Brian McNamara ... Frank
Tim Blaney ... Number 5 (voice)
Marvin J. McIntyre ... Duke
John Garber John Garber ... Otis
Penny Santon ... Mrs. Cepeda
Vernon Weddle Vernon Weddle ... General Washburne
Barbara Tarbuck ... Senator Mills
Tom Lawrence ... Howard Marner's Aide
Fred Slyter Fred Slyter ... Norman
Billy Ray Sharkey Billy Ray Sharkey ... Zack
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Storyline

Number 5, one of a group of experimental military robots, undergoes a sudden transformation after being struck by lightning. He develops self-awareness, consciousness, and a fear of the reprogramming that awaits him back at the factory. With the help of a young woman, Number 5 tries to evade capture and convince his creator that he has truly become alive. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Life is not a malfunction. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Family | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For the scene in which Number Five is flipping a coin, the coin was manipulated on a wire. Moreover, the flip is also aided by the use of reversing the footage. The trip up is the same as the trip down, which is obvious from the bushes in the background. See more »

Goofs

After Frank is knocked down with the tray, the arms of the person operating Johnny 5 can be seen as the robot turns to run. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Number 4: Enemy neutralized. Ladies and gentlemen, objective completed.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are played out over a montage of scenes from the movie, including a pair of scenes that failed to make the final cut. One involves an encounter between Number 5 and a toy robot, the other involves a scene in a scrap yard where a scrapped car that Number 5 is currently sitting in is crushed. See more »

Connections

Featured in 2003 MTV Movie Awards (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Who's Johnny
("Short Circuit" Theme)
Written by Péter Wolf (as Peter Wolf) and Ina Wolf
Performed by El DeBarge
Courtesy of Motown Records
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User Reviews

 
A rarity among family-oriented films...
12 February 2005 | by mentalcriticSee all my reviews

There have been many films that claim they can entertain audiences of all ages. Indeed, this seems to be the most profitable kind of film to make, with the family-oriented often translating to the lowest common denominator. There is a rare kind of film in this oversaturated market, however. Namely, the film that claims it can entertain an audience in almost any age bracket, and really can deliver on this promise. I know how this sounds, so bear with me a moment.

Short Circuit is, at heart, a comedy about what happens when a robot designed to replace a special forces soldier is struck by lightning, and starts to believe he is a living entity. Much of the rest of the film revolves around either Number 5's attempts to evade capture by the people who made him, or his attempts to convince the people he meets of the truly wonderful thing that has happened to him. Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg provide an excellent support cast that does a first rate job of interacting with the character. This was one of the first films to show human actors engaging in conversation with what was essentially a full-scale puppet, and it remains one of the best. With brilliant voice acting by Tim Blaney, Number 5 seems more human than some of the other actors in the film, especially G.W. Bailey. They must have had a special on Police Academy alumni that year.

Speaking of Police Academy, the "let's rip the front seats out and sit in the back" joke gets a couple of references here. In fact, a few old classics get a good reference in this effort. Interestingly enough, the Three Stooges short that is shown and imitated in a couple of sequences is called Woman Haters. Go figure. The one weakness of the film is that it seems primarily constructed around a few puppeteering or special effects sequences. The use of the laser beams here seems very dated by modern standards, and the computers would look unbelievable if I hadn't personally seen the computers that were available to the public and business around this year.

Sadly, they do not make films like this anymore. In this day and age, where every film has to be made as expensively as possible, and even films aimed at children seem segmented, nobody seems willing to consider that the adults in the audience might need to be entertained, too. Which is a real pity. Films like Short Circuit have the ability to appeal to this viewer even more now that he is twenty-something years old than was the case when he was eight years old. I doubt that anyone who turns twenty-six in 2020 is going to same the same about the Pokemon or other such mind-numbing single-digit-age-only crap that is being churned out.

I gave Short Circuit an eight out of ten. It is starting to show its age, but as a relic of the mid-1980s, it also shows that there were people asking questions about the advancement of technology. Indeed, on the basis of films like Short Circuit, I am almost willing to regard the 1980s as the last bastion of creativity in the mainstream film industry. Give it a look expecting a film about more than money, and you may be pleasantly surprised.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 May 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Short Circuit See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,346,808, 11 May 1986

Gross USA:

$40,697,761

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$40,697,761
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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