Number Five, Still Alive
It's been a very long time since I watched "Short Circuit 2" and had forgotten much of it before recently catching it for the first time in about 20 years. It didn't take long for the memories to come flooding back and within 20 minutes I had remember much of what was to follow and was quite looking forward to what I remembered. The whole ineptness of Ben trying to ask Sandy out as well as Fred trying to help Save Johnny Five were just two of those things which I remembered and waited for them to come. But then I waited and waited and it suddenly struck me that "Short Circuit 2" at 110 minutes is one drawn out movie which for almost 80 minutes doesn't do much rather than bide time. And it is a shame because it is still cute and funny even if a little un-PC by today's standards but because you have so much padding it becomes a bit of a slog.
Having turned to making toy versions of Johnny Five Ben Jahveri (Fisher Stevens - Short Circuit) is approached by Sandy (Cynthia Gibb) an assistant buyer for a dept. store who loves his cute little robots and wants to place an order. That order is for 1000 robots which is a problem and so is Fred Ritter (Michael McKean - Clue) a seller of fake watches who muscles himself in on the action as Ben's friend. But to help him out the real Johnny Five arrives from Montana and before long they are knocking out the order. But there is more trouble because they find themselves being threatened by a gang of criminals who are trying to steal rare diamonds by tunnelling into a bank vault and the empty warehouse that Ben and Fred are using happens to be where they were digging.
The storyline to "Short Circuit 2" is really simple because we have Ben and Fred along with Johnny Five setting up a makeshift toy factory in an old warehouse and finding themselves falling foul of a small gang of criminals planning to tunnel into a bank vault via the warehouse. It throws up the expected humour of the innocent Johnny Five being duped into aiding these criminals before mad action as he along with Fred try to stop them. We have the added drama of Johnny Five being badly damaged with his battery running low threatening his life. But it is very simple, very easy to follow and very entertaining.
But then that storyline really is just the last 30 minutes and for the first 80 minutes we go round in circles with amusing padding. There is the friendship which forms between Ben and con artist Fred to make us smile as well as Johnny Five arriving from Montana to help out. Add in Ben falling for assistant toy buyer Sandy as well as Johnny enjoying exploring a city and we have lots of little stories and set pieces which fill these first 80 minutes. It tries to add depth with Johnny not understanding why people treat him differently but most of this first half is a treat of visual gags, from toy robots going awol to Johnny getting a paint job.
But the knock on effect of all this is that whilst these first 80 minutes is fun it does go on and on. We do get the drama of the criminals trying to frighten Ben and Fred out of the warehouse but these are minor moments. Basically if they had cut all this padding down by about 20 minutes it would have worked so much better and stopped "Short Circuit 2" from becoming a bit of a slog.
Now there is of course the element of Fisher Stevens playing Ben Jahveri, putting on a heavy Indian accent and makeup which just wouldn't be acceptable now. But get past this, and you should, and Fisher Stevens is as much fun as he was the first time around, be it getting his words wrong or his fumbling when trying to chat up Sandy. Talking of which Cynthia Gibb is a pleasant fill in for Ally Sheedy who as Stephanie only appears via a voice recording. But unfortunately Michael McKean as Fred is no Steve Guttenberg and it is the chirpiness of Guttenberg which for me is sadly missing.
What this all boils down to is that "Short Circuit 2" is still a fun movie with plenty of smile moments. But at 110 minutes it does feel too long and suffers from a painfully drawn out first 80 minutes.