Short Circuit

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Short Circuit

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Badham
Produced byDavid Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written byS. S. Wilson &
Brent Maddock
StarringAlly Sheedy
Steve Guttenberg
Fisher Stevens
Austin Pendleton
G. W. Bailey
Brian MacNamara
Tim Blaney
Music byDavid Shire
CinematographyNick McLean
Editing byFrank Morriss
StudioProducers Sales Organization
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • May 9, 1986 (1986-05-09)
Running time98 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$40,697,761 (USA)
 
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Short Circuit

Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Badham
Produced byDavid Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written byS. S. Wilson &
Brent Maddock
StarringAlly Sheedy
Steve Guttenberg
Fisher Stevens
Austin Pendleton
G. W. Bailey
Brian MacNamara
Tim Blaney
Music byDavid Shire
CinematographyNick McLean
Editing byFrank Morriss
StudioProducers Sales Organization
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • May 9, 1986 (1986-05-09)
Running time98 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$40,697,761 (USA)

Short Circuit is a 1986 American comedy science fiction film starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg and directed by John Badham. Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton, and G. W. Bailey co-star, with Tim Blaney providing the voice of robot "Number 5."

The story revolves around a sentient robot labeled "SAINT Number 5." The acronym SAINT stands for "Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport." The robot later takes the name "Johnny Five".

A sequel, Short Circuit 2, was released in 1988.

Contents

Plot

Number 5 (voiced by Tim Blaney) is one of five anthropomorphic prototype robots proposed for Cold War use by the U.S. military, although the scientist mainly responsible for creating them, Newton Graham Crosby, Ph.D. (Steve Guttenberg) and his partner Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens), are more interested in peaceful uses of their artificial intelligence, like playing musical instruments and providing social aid. While a demonstration takes place on the grounds of the developer's company, Nova Laboratories in Damon, Washington, a lightning storm forces the presentation to end early. A power surge hits Number 5 while it is recharging and alters its program, causing a malfunction. An associated accident causes it to be taken off company grounds and it wanders away, unable to communicate and not knowing where it is.

Number 5 finds itself at the home of animal-lover Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy) in Astoria, Oregon, a young woman who is in an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend Frank. At first, Stephanie initially thinks the robot is an extraterrestrial visitor. She later determines that the robot was built by Nova. After she helps Number 5 satisfy his cravings for "input" (due to its malfunction), and explains the nature of life and death to it, Stephanie and the robot realize the power surge has brought the robot to life. Number 5 subsequently gains a respect for life, rejecting the destructive nature of his military programming and developing a fear of the disassembly that awaits him back at Nova, which he sees as akin to death.

After several narrow escapes from a troop of soldiers led by Nova's security head Captain Skroeder (G. W. Bailey) — who in his attempt to destroy the wayward robot disobeys orders from Howard Marner (Austin Pendleton), the director of Nova — as well as from Frank, Stephanie and the robot finally convince Newton of the robot's sentience, but are cornered by the full weight of Nova's security and the Army, who seemingly destroy the robot. With the project that spawned the robots ruined, a mournful Marner fires Skroeder for disobeying orders to capture Number 5 intact. In tears, Stephanie leaves with Newton, who decides to go to Montana, having quit Nova. Number 5 surprises both by agreeing with the idea as he appears from underneath the truck. Unbeknownst to the soldiers, the robot destroyed was a copy built by Number 5 from spare parts laying in Newton's truck. Number 5 (who renames himself "Johnny Five" after hearing the song "Who's Johnny" throughout the movie) leaves for Montana with Stephanie and Newton.

Cast

Production

Original Johnny 5 robot from the Short Circuit films.

This film was conceived after the producers found success with an educational video about a robot that they created and distributed to local colleges. Studying other films with a prominent robot cast in them (like the Star Wars series) for inspiration, they decided to take a more realistic approach to the standard "living robot" plot, asking how people would truly react if a living robot appeared before them (with the theory that no one would believe for a second the robot was alive). As part of this, they purposely made Captain Skroeder the one taking the most rational action against the robot, having him do the "right" thing despite being a villain.

According to the commentary in the DVD, Johnny 5 was the most expensive part of the movie, requiring several different versions to be made for different sequences. Almost everything else in the movie was relatively inexpensive, allowing them to allocate as much money as they needed for the robot character. Johnny 5 was designed by Syd Mead, the "visual futurist" famous for his work on Blade Runner and Tron.

Syd Mead's design was greatly influenced by the sketches of Eric Allard. Eric Allard was the Robotics Supervisor and credited for "realizing" the robots. John Badham named Eric "the most valuable player" on the film.

Most of the arm movements of Johnny 5 were controlled by a "telemetry suit", a metallic skeleton carried on the puppeteer's upper torso. Each joint in the suit had a separate sensor, allowing the puppeteer's arm and hand movements to be transferred directly to the machine. He was also voiced in real-time by his puppeteer, the director believing that it provided for a more realistic interaction between the robot and the other actors than putting in his voice in post-production, although a few of his lines were redubbed later.[citation needed]

During Stephanie's impromptu news interview, director John Badham makes a cameo appearance as the news cameraman.

Soundtrack

Although no soundtrack album was released at the time, El DeBarge had a chart hit with the single "Who's Johnny (Theme from Short Circuit)."[1]

In 2008 Varèse Sarabande issued David Shire's score as part of their CD Club series of limited edition releases. The DeBarge song was not included or mentioned in the liner notes. The last three tracks are source music.

The booklet claims the end title song isn't used in the movie. It is, however, on the soundtrack. The finale mix and end title are combined into one track, whereas they are used separately in the film.

  1. Main Title (2:13)
  2. The Quickening/Off The Bridge (2:44)
  3. Discovering Number 5/Sunrise (4:32)
  4. Grasshopper/Joy(less) Ride (4:43)
  5. The Attack/Coming To (3:47)
  6. Road Block/Bathtub/Robot Battle (2:42)
  7. Getaway/Hello, Bozos (2:41)
  8. Night Scene/Joke Triumph (4:17)
  9. Danger, Nova/Escape Attempt/Aftermath (3:48)
  10. Finale/End Title: "Come And Follow Me" - Max Carl and Marcy Levy (5:04)
  11. Rock (3:45)
  12. Bar (1:51)
  13. The Three Stooges (1:10)

Video game

A video game developed by Ocean Software for ZX Spectrum,[2] Commodore 64[3] and Amstrad CPC[4] was also made based on the movie. It featured two parts, one arcade adventure where Johnny 5 had to escape from the lab, and one action part where Johnny 5 escapes across the countryside, avoiding soldiers, other robots, and animals.

Reception

The movie had mostly positive reviews.[5] Short Circuit debuted at No.1 at the box office.[6]

Awards and nominations

Awards
AwardCategoryRecipient(s)Outcome
Saturn Awards
Best DirectorJohn BadhamNominated
Best Science Fiction FilmNominated
Best Special EffectsEric Allard, Syd MeadNominated
BMI Film Music AwardDavid ShireWon

End credits

The ending credit sequence features parts of scenes cut from the final product, a gimmick that predated the advent of director's cuts and optional deleted scenes in later DVDs. The scenes shown in the credits include an extended SAINT demonstration sequence, which would have included the robots flying remote-controlled airplanes, an encounter with a white, commercially-made Omnibot 2000, and a close encounter with "death" at a scrapyard. The latter two were from a cut sequence set between Number 5's theft of the Nova van in which he was being carted back by Ben, and his second arrival at Stephanie's house. In that sequence, the Nova van would have run out of fuel near the scrap yard, forcing Number 5 to abandon it and look for another suitable mode of transportation. The Omnibot in the former of the two scenes would have belonged to the scrap yard owner's children, who were to frighten Number 5 away with their comparisons between him and the Omnibot.

Sequel and remake

The sequel, Short Circuit 2, premiered in 1988. There was a script for a possible third movie written in 1989 and rewritten in 1990, but it was found unsatisfactory by the producers, and the project was subsequently scrapped.

In April 2008, Variety reported that Dimension Films had acquired the rights to remake the original film. Dan Milano had been hired to write the script, and David Foster to produce it. Foster said that the robot's appearance would not change.[7]

On October 27, 2009, it was announced that Steve Carr would direct the remake and that the film's plot would involve a boy from a broken family befriending the Number 5 robot.[8][9]

For reasons unknown, Carr left the project and on August 4, 2011, it was reported that Tim Hill would direct the reboot instead.[10]

Other appearances

Johnny 5 makes an appearance in a commercial for Home

Johnny 5 also hosted a half-hour video called Hot Cars, Cold Facts.

In the 1990 Muppet Babies episode "At the Movies", Baby Scooter has a conversation with Johnny 5, featuring footage from Short Circuit 2.

Johnny 5 was referenced in the webcomic Homestuck, though his accidental creation was not welcomed by character Jade Harley as she thought him useless.

References

External links