Short Circuit (1986)
Review by Jude Felton
UK based Second Sight Films certainly seem to know how to tap into the kid in me. Recent releases of Return of the Living Dead, the Basket Case trilogy and very soon Southern Comfort, all saw their original releases back when I was a wee lad, and all have been splendid so far. Now they have a couple of more child friendly movies to add to their impressive catalogue. Flight of the Navigator (which will have its own review) and Short Circuit are the two latest to get the Blu-ray treatment, and I have to admit that I was excited to see the return of Johnny 5.
Short Circuit is classic 80s faire; innocents up against a bumbling military force (or security firm as the case may be), a cutesy central character, Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy. Hell this film couldn’t get more 80s’ if it tried! It’s also directed by John Badham, who it appears put out his best movies in that decade. WarGames (of which Sheedy also stars), of which this has elements, Stakeout and Blue Thunder were all Badham flicks, as was Saturday Night Fever, which pops up in a couple of scenes. Short Circuit is the most child-friendly though, and it kind of riffs on the success of E.T. which was released a couple of years prior to this film.
The film is about a security firm who have developed a robot for the military; one that is the ultimate weapon (even though it is incredibly impractical). There are five of them, and after a bump on the head Number 5 goes AWOL. All of a sudden it develops a mind of its own, feels the need to continually learn and ends up taking residence with Ally Sheedy’s character, Stephanie.
Of course, the creators want to get Number 5 back; it is after all an incredibly dangerous weapon at its core, and they go about trying to find it. Included in this team is Newton, played by Steve Guttenberg, who actually designed the robots, although he originally designed them not as weapons, so you know where his allegiances will be.
Short Circuit is just a charming film; it’s perfect for kids and adults, and it thoroughly entertaining. Sure, some of the effects look a little dated now, aside from Number 5 who still looks cool, and it contains just about every 80s cliché possible, but so what? The film looks great on Blu-ray, far better than I remember it being, and there are also a few short interviews included on this release, as well as a few other bits and bobs, including an audio commentary from Badham and the film’s writers. It might not be up to the standard of Return of the Living Dead and the Basket Case release, but it is definitely a bloody good release that you need to pick up.
The film also stars G.W. Bailey, who starred alongside Guttenberg in the Police Academy movies, in a not too dissimilar role, and Fisher Stevens, who made his film debut in the slasher-tastic The Burning.
This is another win for Second Sight and it does indeed prove that Number 5 is alive!
Short Circuit is released on Blu-ray and DVD by Second Sight Films on November 19th.
(The stills used in this review are not from the Blu-ray version and are used purely to illustrate content from the film.)