Number 5 is alive in Short Circuit, an 80’s adventure directed by John Badham and starring Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg.
Short Circuit opens with a governmental agency gushing over their new toys; a group of experimental robots that they intend to send to war. Such a scenario may sound a bit too sinister to feature in a family movie but it’s played with enough (if not a little too much) slapstick for it to pose no real threat at all.
Things take an inevitable turn for the worse when one of the robots is electrocuted and becomes self aware. Fleeing the base, Number 5 soon finds himself in the company of Stephanie (Ally Sheedy), an animal loving human who becomes intent on helping the robot escape the clutches of the government.
Caught in the mix are Number 5’s bumbling creators Newton (Steve Guttenberg) and Ben (Fisher Stevens). Whilst seemingly capable of creating robotic life, the two fail at almost all other aspects of life, with girls being a major problem. Though they often add light relief, Ben’s comedy is often forced through cultural differences and his clanging lines such as ‘I’m sporting a tremendous woody’, a line that falls flat and feels uncomfortably placed in what is so obviously a family movie.
Children will delight in the goofy antics of Number 5 whose special abilities (apart from being alive of course) include super fast reading and an insatiable thirst for ‘input’. Looking like a distant relative of the hugely popular Wall-E, Number 5 reflects a surprising amount of emotion in his robotic face.
The threat posed by the encroaching hands of Number 5’s governmental pursuers is never really great, with them being the equivalent of a task force led by Mr. Bean. This said, Number 5, Stephanie and Newton find themselves in near misses again and again, a situation that provides much of the thrust of the film.
It may not have aged as well as other 80’s movies but Short Circuit will still put a smile on the faces of people who loved the film when it was originally released in 1986.