It was one of those ‘what are they thinking?’ movies: Ally Sheedy, fresh off The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, and Steve Guttenberg, star of three (so far) Police Academy movies, are teaming up for a silly little movie about a talking robot?
Oh, how wrong we were.
Why? Because it’s equal parts War Games and E.T.. Because Ally Sheedy’s just so darn cute (though, for our money, she was just a tad too eager inviting an ‘alien’ into her house, no?), and because Number 5 was flat-out hilarious, channeling everyone from John Wayne to Bugs Bunny and throwing out insults that would make our toaster blush (“Hey Laserlips, your momma was a snowblower!”).
Short Circuit is the story of a military robot (though it was ‘designed as a marital aid’) that gets zapped by lightning and comes ‘alive’. When he gets mistakenly shipped out of the lab in a garbage hauler, he ends up on Stephanie’s Snack Truck. She takes him in, introduces him to The Three Stooges, books, and Saturday Night Fever, and all of a sudden, our little Number 5 isn’t just a robot anymore.
Sure, the military is chasing after him, led by Skroeder (G.W. Bailey, who would show up next year as the buffoonish security guard in Mannequin, which we love!). And we would be remiss if we left out Fisher Stevens, whose… well, let’s just call it ‘racist’ portrayal of an Indian scientist would have people picketing and calling for boycotts in today’s climate. Still, though… he sure was funny! (“With excitement like this, who is needing enemas?”)
Short Circuit (and it’s heavy-handed anti-war message) went on to make more than $40 million when it hit theaters in 1986, spawning a sequel and even rumors of a 2011 remake. Plus (speaking of DeBarge), who can forget that catchy (though completely indecipherable) song, “Who’s Johnny?”
Well, we know who Johnny is. He’s our favorite 80s robot, and yes sir, he is alive.
We ♥ Short Circuit.