Short Circuit (1986)
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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.
However, I recently had the chance to watch this flick again. I must say, that it still has it's redeeming value to it.
If you ask me, Number 5, is STILL alive! I recommend this movie to anyone. 7 out of 10.
10 out of 10 is my rating because this movie has played a great part in my movie-watching life. I first saw it at the age of 9 (edited Disney broadcast version, with the adult language cut out) and have looked to it ever since if I just want to get a little laugh. And, for me, a little laugh in my otherwise stressful life is a great thing.
Need input." So Stephanie lets No. 5 reed all her encyclopedias then lets him watch the T.V. all night.
After all the initial fun and "input" the chase begins when No. 5 realises that the people from Nova are after him and want to dismantle him. Because they think he's malfunctioning.
"No dismantle! Not malfunction. No. 5 is alive!" Are what No. 5 says. And N. 5 has to go through a number of obstacles to avoid being destroyed by these soldiers and a ruthless general who will do anything to permanently shut No. 5 down. But No. 5 is just too smart. He out smarts military men in many was, using all these tricks he has up his sleeves...or in his massive memory bank.
So overall if you have a heart then No. 5 is the perfect friend. He will truly capture your heart.
Johnny 5 is a robot designed for military use until one day it's struck by lightning and, apparently, comes to life. This is a pretty tired formula, something man-made suddenly displaying life-like qualities and wanting to be recognized as a real boy, but it's accompanied by some clever messages about the advancement of technology, particularly technology designed to replace humans, which has always been seen as a bit of a dangerous idea, criticized brilliantly by everyone from Charlie Chaplin to James Cameron.
Johnny 5's adventures involve his efforts to avoid capture by the people who made him ("NOVA! No!!"), while at the same time trying to prove to the world that he's a living entity now. They could not make a movie like this today. Sadly, CGI has forever replaced the need to create a physical robot like the one that plays Johnny 5 in this movie, so any Short Circuit that was made today would just be some soul-less digital effect cavorting across the screen, instantly forgettable. But here, he's really there, and he's heavy and clumsy and metallic, but so memorable as a movie character that I've recently read that the actual robot prop was sold for something like $500,000. Now THAT is a fan!
Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy have a cute chemistry on screen that is satisfactorily simple. They are both cookie-cutter caricatures, Sheedy the lonely Stephanie, who drives an ice-cream truck for a living, and Guttenberg plays a scientist named Newton, who works for the evil NOVA but who only needs a cute ice-cream lady and a charming robot to change his evil ways.
Sound like fun? No? Well, it is, trust me. The film has definitely dated, but I'll take special effects that look dated 20 years later over expensive CGI that never looked real in the first place any day. A lot of films claim to be fun for all ages, but Short Circuit is one of the few that really is. It's too bad that movies like this seem to be gone forever now .
Speck becomes good friends with 'Number Five' who begins to take on a lot of human characteristics, transcending the static life of a robot or the hostile life of a military weapon, which is what the robots were designed for.
Speck learns that Number Five's owners are looking for him, but she knows that the military would only destroy Number Five or terminate the emotional drive that he has developed. Number Five's designer, Newton Crosby (Guttenberg) and his silly assistant Ben Jabituya (Stevens), have yet to appreciate what Number Five has achieved, as a shell of wires and controls able to take on human qualities, but, soon, they too will join Speck in the quest to save 'Number Five.'
Some of it is kind of reminscint of other 80s sci-fi movies like 'Batteries Not Included' and 'E.T.'
There's two issues at work in this movie. The first, and obvious one being about the development of human emotion and would it be possible for anything to gain an understanding and appreciation for it? And the second being the ethics of military useage. Plus, it's your standard 80s love and friendship story. Because of the story and the sharp wit comedy and sarcasm, it's makes for good comedy. I haven't seen the sequel in a long time, but I do remember enjoying it almost as much as the first. I think that's because 'Number Five' is such a funny, loveable robot.
If you like the theme of this movie, I recommend seeing the hilarious comedy, 'Making Mr. Right,' which is about a robot designed for space exploration rather than military use. But, the robot begins to take on human emotions while the owner becomes increasingly more like a robot. (It's from Susan Siedleman, the director of 'Desperately Seeking Susan.')
I also think that the type of people who would enjoy this movie are the people who feel like Newton Crosby. He's devoted his entire life to something (science and technology), just to have others who used to be devoted to it steal it all away from him. It's almost like the whole movie you want to score one for the little guy. Most of us have been there at some point in our lives. This movie kind of captures that, and if you watch the movie with that intent, it does keep the viewer intrigued.
The movie also makes you appreciate what your life is, when you see just what the robot can do, and you realize just what your mind is capable of.
All in all, I think I found it a lot more touching than it should have been, because it was 3:15am when I started watching it, and I THINK I watched the movie Pi right before it.
The only thing that sort of is upsetting was after this first movie. There was to be a sequel that had all the original cast in it..but it never made it to theaters in time. Where that copy is I have no idea. What was called the sequel...should have been kept under wraps.
I really do wish they would revisit the idea of a sequel for Number 5...this is one robot that deserves another chance at a far better script than what he was given in the 2nd movie.
But going back to the original. Very good job for his supporting cast. Steve and Ally were excellent. I don't think they could have picked better to be in this movie. I still see, and still laugh at the ex boyfriend getting his boot heels shot off...his belt and brim of his hat...the look on his face as he saw his precious car taken apart...not Number 5's fault he had left the Chilton manual in the car...:) :) :) This movie is truly an original tale, very well told, and will stand out as an excellent piece for a long time to come.
A heartfelt sci-fi comedy that's funny, positive, and extremely entertaining. How cool was that robot? Old school effects are remarkable. People built these things by hand, you know? There's just something so much more effective and impressive about that than CGI effects. The cast is really good. Sheedy and Guttenberg are both likable leads. Fisher Steven is a lot of fun. Guttenberg's Police Academy co-star G.W. Bailey plays to type as he did so often in the '80s. Such a fun movie. I had a big goofy grin on my face the whole time I was watching this.
I recently read a review of this movie that trashed it. The reviewer's main reasons for doing so were based on how unrealistic it was. He went on and on about how robots aren't capable of this and that. It made me very sad for him because I know he must not have any friends. If you are reading this and you view Short Circuit the same way that reviewer does, please do yourself a favor -- go out, meet some people, have some adventures, enjoy life. Then come back and watch Short Circuit and see if the stick up your ass is gone yet.
The film opens with five new military robots being demonstrated to a group of politicians and senior officers. After they show how the can eliminate a variety of vehicles everybody goes inside and the robots are recharged... while robot number five is still connected to the generator there is a lightning strike which causes it to malfunction. After a collision with a rubbish disposal robot it ends up on the back of a lorry with the rubbish and is taken off the base. At around the same time it is noticed that he is missing and everybody at Nova, the company that made it, starts to panic. Skroeder, the head of security sets off with his men to catch it while its inventor Dr. Newton Crosby and his assistant Ben Jabituya follow its tracking signal to help them locate it. They find Number Five but it evades capture by jumping off a bridge and parachuting on to the back of a van driven by Stephanie, by now it is out of range for the tracker.
When Stephanie finds Number Five she initially thinks he is an alien and invites it into her house where he seeks input, he quickly reads every book in the house and turns to the television for further learning. When she learns that instead of being an alien he is a robot from a weapons manufacturer she is not impressed and calls them to take it away, however when she tells Number Five that he is to return to Nova he reacts in a way one wouldn't expect from an inanimate object... he shows fear. Realising that he is in danger Number Five takes Stephanie's van which he learns how to drive by reading the instruction manual. She manages to jump aboard as he drives off but they crash and are found be Doctor Crosby who deactivates Number Five and puts him on a truck bound for Nova. Five however manages to reactivate himself and escapes once again. He returns to Stephanie and is present to help rescue her from her abusive ex-boyfriend. She believes that if she can persuade Doctor Crosby that Number Five is alive then he well help them, unfortunately they meeting is interrupted by Skroeder and as well as rescuing Stephanie Number Five must confront the other robots, I won't say what he does to them as it would spoil one of the films jokes.
As stated before the film still seems charming and Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg performed well in the lead roles and while watching it was easy to suspend disbelief and accept that Number Five was indeed alive. I'm not sure what to make of Fisher Stevens's portrayal of Ben Jabituya, on the one hand he was an amusing character, on the other it seemed very dated to have a white actor playing an Indian rather than actually employing somebody from the Sub-continent. There are one or two jokes some parents might find a bit racy but I think most children would enjoy this film as will plenty of adults, especially those who first saw it as youngsters in the '80.
Speaking for myself, I first saw the movie series when I was 12 years old. I thought at that time, that they were the greatest movies I had seen but that's just me. I recently saw the series again and still enjoyed them to the hilt. My ratings : 9/10.
One thing we didn't appreciate was that Fisher Stevens was playing a silly comic-relief character, a nerdy scientist from India who talks with a stereotypical old Indian accent and just doesn't understand things and is super socially awkward. But I guess that was okay in the eighties.
Ally Sheedy is adorable and Steve Guttenberg is adorkable. Sure Ben is a racial stereotype character but Number 5 more than makes up for it by being so much fun. Number 5 is like an adorable baby who grows up with all the pop culture references. It is light charming family fun.
After the fifth member of a group of robots is electrocuted,he forms human feelings and emotions,and escapes his organisation with no intention of returning.
The undeniable star of the show is Number 5, a prototype built by the NOVA company for the military. It was designed by the legendary concept artist Syd Mead (who gave us the TRON lightcycles and Blade Runner's spinners, among others). It's a fantastic looking robot puppet, and was one of the most sophisticated movie props ever built. It's expressive eyes are enough to melt any robot junkie's heart, even if it's primary objective is to nuke the Soviets. Hit by a jolt of lightning after an explosive demonstration of the robot squad's firepower, Number 5 inexplicably becomes self-aware and shows incredible intelligence and curiosity. It's a far cry from the complex and semi-believable explanations made by smarter science fiction, but it's just one of those things you have to go along with for the sake of the plot.
Of course, all hell breaks loose when Number 5 inadvertently escapes from NOVA's lab. It's absolute nonsense with few if any laughs, but it's still sort of fun to watch out of curiosity. One can't help but notice the similarity between Number 5 and certain real robots developed since then. I'm sure I'll probably make a lot of people angry by saying so, but Short Circuit hasn't exactly aged well. It's one of the few examples of robots on film where the robot isn't a villain, so at least it has that going for it. It's practically required viewing if you're into robots, but unless you're on a serious nostalgia kick you're probably better off skipping it and watching WALL-E again instead.
Oozing 80s style from every frame, Short Circuit might be an extremely dated movie (check out the computers that feature in the filma Mac classic is seen being unpacked!) but it still manages to be a whole load of fun thanks to its likable characters and a pretty funny script. I just finished watching the DVD with my kids (aged 7 and 5), and we all had a great time: I particularly enjoyed the sense of nostalgia I got from watching a 'pre-internet, pre-mobile phone era' piece of cheesy sci-fi from my youth, whilst the children just lapped up the silly antics of Johnny 5.
Badham might not be the most stylish of directors, but he can always be relied upon to deliver a solidly entertaining film, and although this one isn't packed with state of the art special effects (even for the time), sometimes the action is rather weak (the 'high speed' chase scenes look rather slow to me), and Fisher Stevens' portrayal of an Asian is rather dubious, it's still worth a try. Even if Guttenberg is in it.