It’s time once again for “Movies You Have Not Have Seen….But You Should”. This week we look at the classic 1986 comedy Short Circuit. The film includes such classic 80s stars as Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy & Fisher Stevens. The film is centers around a robot. But this is no ordinary robot. It is one of five prototype Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport (or S.A.I.N.T.) that have been developed by NOVA Robotics for use by the U.S. Military for use against Russia (remember this was the 80s). One of the robots gets struck by lightning after a demonstration of its capabilities and becomes “alive”. It finds its way off the base and begins exploring the world. While everyone, including the military & inventors Newton Crosby PH.D. (played by Guttenberg) and Ben Jahrvi (played by Stevens…and yes I know that’s the last name of the character in the sequel but I like it better than the last name in this film) try to capture the robot, “Number Five” finds himself at the home of Stephanie Speck (played by Sheedy).
Stephanie initially suspects “Number Five” to be an alien but soon finds out he’s a robot. But not just any old robot, this robot is alive. This is the theme that runs throughout the movie as each of the main characters have to wrestle with whether this robot really is “alive”.
This is an ‘80s film without a doubt. But even with that, it is very funny. Guttenberg is in his wheelhouse during this time period and does a great job as Newton Crosby. He and Ally Sheedy have great chemistry in the film make for a great paring. Fisher Stevens has some funny (and some over the top) one liners but he’s more comic relief from the human side (if you want to see more well rounded performance from that character, check out the sequel when he’s featured more prominently). The “villain” in the film, Captain Skroeder (played by another classic 80s actor in G.W. Bailey) is a guy that you can’t help but dislike and root for him to fail. But ultimately Short Circuit is about the robot. The makers of the film went to great lengths to get “Number Five” right and they did a great job. A majority of the money spent on the film went to building and maintaining the robots so credit goes not only to the builders but also the puppeteers & the man who did the voice of “Number Five”: Tim Blaney. His performance made the film the success that it was. It debuted at #1 grossing $5.3 million (think about a movie now grossing that much with an early May release) & would go on to gross nearly $40.7 million (which is good considering it had only a $9 million budget).
Short Circuit is available on Blu-Ray, DVD & Amazon Prime Instant. If you’re looking for a night of 80s fun, in the mood to catch a classic Steve Guttenberg/Ally Sheedy film, or just in need of a good laugh, then this is the film for you. I’m sure many of you have seen this. But in case you haven’t, it’s one you may not have seen, but you should.