Johnny 5 is Alive
Whilst on a military display in front of the top brass, one of a set of proto type military robots is struck by a bolt of lightening. This sudden surge of electricity causes a short circuit in its computer system which gives it a personality and an ability to learn. With this knew intelligence, he escapes the confines of the military base and comes across the home of Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy - St. Elmo's Fire) an ice cream seller. At first she thinks that the robot is an Alien from outer space, but soon realizes that it is a robot after spotting some writing on one of its panels. In its search for knowledge, the robot quizzes Stephanie and flips through all her books.
Hot on the tracks of the robot is his creator, Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenerg - Police Academy 3: Back in Training) and his sidekick Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens - Only You), as well as a group of soldiers lead by the ruthless Skroeder (G.W. Bailey - Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment). When they finally catch up to him, they are amazed to find that he has developed an artificial intelligence. With the knowledge, that if they took him back to the military base he would be reprogrammed, all 4 of them go on the run as the rest of the military close in.
Released back in 1986, Short Circuit is a family movie about an AWOL robot with the name of Johnny 5. Although it is classified as a sci-fi, the film is more focused on the comedy side of things, as Johnny 5 learns all about life, and makes quite a few comical errors on the way. The comedy also comes from Fisher Stevens as Jabituya the creator's sidekick who gets all his sayings jumbled up. Even today after 20 years the film is still as enjoyable as the first time I watched it. Yes, it has become a bit dated, but it is still a very funny film which unlike modern comedies, it doesn't offend you. It also helps that the film includes the comedy talents of Steve Guttenberg, who comes across like a cheeky school kid and the innocent looking Ally Sheedy. In fact this film was so popular at the time that a sequel was released 2 years later.
The real star of the film is Johnny 5, which although looks a bit dated now, still provides the very funny focus of the film, robot speak has never sounded so good. In the male lead role of Newton Crosby is Steven Guttenberg who coasts through this film so effortlessly as the creator with a heart. Opposite him is the kind hearted Stephanie Speck played by Ally Sheedy who also plays a love interest for Steve Guttenberg. The supporting cast is also really good, with solid comedy performances coming from Fisher Stevens, G.W. Bailey and Brian McNamara.
The film is directed by John Badham who also directed American Flyers and Stake Out. I feel this was probably his best directional outing, as he kept the film moving, the humour plentiful but stayed focused on the story. It is a shame that directors these days have seem to have lost this art of film making, and rely on so many special effects and bad taste humour to satisfy the audience.
What this all boils down to is that over 20 years later I still like Short Circuit almost as much now as I did when I watched it all those years ago. It appeals to all age groups, and you would have to go along way to find anything offensive or disturbing in the movie. In an era where most family movies have some sort of dark undertones, this film is so honest it is like a breath of fresh air.