Crazy Childhood: Short Circuit

He's alive! ALIVE!
May 06, 2010

Short Circuit (1986)

Directed by: John Badham

Starring: Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton, G.W. Bailey, Brian MacNamara


Tim Blaney
as the voice of "Number 5"

"Feel the wrath of God, Number 5!

Movies and television certainly have a way of giving us some of the most memorable robots of all time. They range from wisecracking, yet likable, like Crow and Tom Servo from Mystery Science Theater 3000, to whizzing and whirling and beeping machines like R2-D2 from you-know-what.

The reason why most of these robots are so unforgettable is that they both convey real emotions from how they act to how they speak. But seeing how they speak is way easy (I think we all know how most robots speak), but seeing how they act is a whole new ball game. Most of their expressions are lifeless, so it's up to us to analyze these robots closely so that we can feel sympathy for them. If we get something, then it's obvious we got a very likable character.

Quick! Get Drew Struizan to paint a potrait of Number 5 while he's in that pose!

The character "Number 5" from Short Circuitis probably one of the most adorable robots I've ever seen. It's no doubt that he steals the show in this little 1986 feel-good romp that both adults and kids will find compelling from beginning to end.

This film was just one of many films that tried to rip off of the classic 1982 film E.T., including Mac and Me and Harry and the Hendersons. But seeing how I have yet to see either of those two films, Short Circuit is, in my opinion, the best E.T. rip-off ever.

Just play some sexy 70's music, and this scene's all set.

Don't play with explosives, kids.


When a laser-armed Department of Defense robot named "Number 5" (Blaney) gets zapped by a lightning bolt, he malfunctions and starts to develope a human-like soul. Naturally, the newly pacifist machine wants out of the military and escapes.

As a frantic search for the creature begins, Number 5 is taken in by a young animal-lover named Stephanie (Sheedy), who teaches Number 5 about the wonders of life. Meanwhile, Number 5's inventor, Newton Crosby (Guttenberg) and a comical Indian sidekick named Ben (Stevens) are out looking for the robot...

"One move and I'll beat this cage to death!"

There's some scenes that are way too slow and feel like they take forever.

The first one is when Number 5 has been disconnected by Newton Crosby and is taken back to the military base by Crosby's sidekick Ben and a truck driver. As Ben and the driver have a pointless conversation, it takes forever for Number 5 to come back to life and take things into his own hands (even though Crosby just cut off his power, but whatever.).

The second scene that's too slow comes shortly after, when Number 5 kicks Ben and the truck driver out of the truck, then he drives off to Stephanie's house. This scene suffers from lack of dialogue, and it could've been better had Number 5 talked a bit more or if the scene were trimmed just a bit.


Everything else.

The film's best part is not only the performance of the robot Number 5, but the performance of Ally Sheedy. Sheedy's probably the most likable human in this film, proably because she's the only human in the film that cares for Number 5. She sorta reminds me of Valerie from Earth Girls Are Easy. She plays the role not too goofy or too serious. She balances out the two personalities in perfect harmony.

"Uhhh...Stephanie? I'm right here! Yoohoo! Anyone?

The other actors are good, as well (though I'm still uncomfortable with Stevens playing an Indian guy), but isn't it kind of strange that both Police Academy players Guttenberg and Bailey are in the same film together?

The humor is pretty light-weight, like those lame live-action Disney films from the 70's and early 80's. But most of it works thanks to what Number 5 recites from television and movies (he manages to reprogram 3 of the robots that are hunting him down to repeat Three Stooges dialogue. Don't ask.).

Boy, if only I had an army to destroy anyone I hate...

"This LIGHT, Number 5....light GOOD!"


Short Circuit is a film that may have content that'll have children puzzled, and there are some slow moments, but it's nevertheless a likable, feel-good comedy that kids will definately enjoy and adults will find some surprises here and there. Number 5's alive, and most certainly not a dud.



See ya!

Stay tuned for SHORT CIRCUIT 2....
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