Short Circuit, 1986.
Directed by John Badham.
Starring Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton, G.W. Bailey, Brian McNamara and Tim Blaney.
So, how does Short Circuit hold up after all these years? Well, for a start it looks great, thanks in part to a decent HD restoration for the Blu-ray release, but credit is also due to Eric Allard (Stuart Little) and his VFX team for the fine practical effects employed to bring Syd Mead’s (Blade Runner, TRON) Number 5 design to life. Still, it’s also a product of its time – the “wholesome 80s family entertainment movie” – complete with standard performances from its then box-office draws, a sprinkling of adult humour to keep the parents happy, and an Indian character portrayed by a white actor (Fisher Stevens) who puts Apu Nahasapeemapetilon to shame as a stereotype, but still manages to steal most of the laughs.
If you have fond childhood memories of Short Circuit, then it’s certainly worth a watch for nostalgic purposes; Number 5 remains an endearing enough character (if a little annoying at times) and his zany antics will surely still entertain the young ‘uns of today, while the film’s basic premise of discovering the value of life is almost Disney-esque in its timelessness. There’s also an “edgy, darker” remake featuring a “brooding” Number 5 in the works from Tim Hill, the man who brought us Muppets from Space, Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Hop, so this might be your last chance to revisit the original before its memory is sullied forever.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.