Review for Short Circuit
Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and as much as everyone wants to say that nothing good ever came from the 80s (fashion, music) one thing we did get right was movies. Back to the Future, Blade Runner, Indy and many more. In the 80s movies were awesome and none more so than when they included robots... Short Circuit is not the violence of Robocop and Terminator, but a nice mix of that sci-fi feel with a comic edge.
Short Circuit is a simple story. Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) alongside with his assistant Ben (Fisher Stevens) created a robot that is so sophisticated that it can be used as a military weapon for the company NOVA. The five machines created are super smart, super strong, can destroy tanks, packed full of many other devices and can even mix a mean gin and tonic. However, when Number Five is struck by lightning it starts him off on a wild adventure. Not because he has malfunctioned, but because Number Five is ALIVE!!!
Escaping NOVA, Number Five stumbles (or lands to be more accurate) across Stephanie (Ally Sheedy) who at first thinking he is an alien, introduced Number Five to everything that the world has to offer including encyclopedias which he can read in a matter of seconds, disco music and The Three Stooges.
However, in pursuit of Number Five is Skroeder (G.W. Bailey) who wants nothing more than to put the robot out of action. But Number Five must find a way to hide and convince everyone that he is not a machine, that he is in fact alive.
I thought that the haze of nostalgia would stop me enjoying this film. But it did not. This film is every bit as great as I remembered. The jokes are spot on, the interactions between all the characters (and that includes Number Five) is wonderful and you really cannot state how wonderful the effects are in this film.
This is 1986 and so everything you are seeing on the screen is real, there is no CGI, every move, every gesture, everything that Number Five does had to be created by an amazing effects team. Although it's hard to argue that the Special Effects Oscar winner that year of Aliens didn't deserve it, the fact that it wasn't nominated is a shock.
The performance by Number Five which is made even better by Tim Blaney's vocal works makes him almost the best actor on screen. I know there is a dig that this isn't hard against Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy, but even these two put on great moments throughout, especially Sheedy who I got to admit I had a crush on when I first watched it and nearly thirty years later she still looks as cute as ever.
All of the extras apart from the commentary are archive footage from when the film was originally made. Archive interviews with Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, Director John Badham, Designers Syd Mead and Eric Allard are all fine, though I do wish something more modern had been included. Creation of Number 5 is short look at how the robot was created for the film is interesting in how they created a robot more advanced than most of the actual robots that existed at the time.
Behind the Scenes is a strange almost alternative look at the scene where Skroeder is sent to find Number Five and the scene between Stephanie and Crosby in the bar. It does not add anything other than show just how many cameras and crew were involved in these relatively simple scenes. Personally I would have preferred if not an actual Behind the Scenes look at the film (even if it was another archive piece) or a look at a scene with Number Five to see how many people or different tricks were needed to make a scene like that happen.
The commentary provided by Director John Badham and Writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. This is interesting as all three are full of stories as to how the film was created and as (it seems) the writers had very little to do with the actual production they have many questions for Badham in regards to why and how certain things were done.
Unlike most commentaries that feel a little flat, this is almost like listening in on a conversation between three old friends who haven't seen each other for a while and are just having a chat while watching a film they worked on. It is obvious that they enjoyed their time creating the film and this shows throughout.
The only disappointment was that they did not include the equally fun sequel with this set two as that would have made it even more of a Nostalgic Must Have. But I guess that's just me being greedy.
Short Circuit is a film alive with wonderful moments and even if you want to say it looks dated and some of it does, the story and the nuts and bolts at the heart of it still shines through. For those who never experienced it first hand will enjoy this light and comic take on a science fiction story. For those who want to relive the film you will find that it is just as great as you remembered it.