Short Circuit (1986 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Johnny 5)
Jump to: navigation, search
Short Circuit
Short Circuit (1986 film poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
Directed by John Badham
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by David Shire
Cinematography Nick McLean
Edited by Frank Morriss
Production
companies
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
  • May 9, 1986 (1986-05-09)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[2]
Box office $40.7 million

Short Circuit is a 1986 American comic science fiction film directed by John Badham and written by S. S. Wilson and Brent Maddock. The film's plot centers upon an experimental military robot that is struck by lightning and gains a more humanlike intelligence, with which it embarks to explore its new state. Short Circuit stars Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton and G. W. Bailey, with Tim Blaney as the voice of the robot named "Johnny 5". A sequel, Short Circuit 2, was released in 1988.

Plot[edit]

NOVA Laboratory robotics experts Newton Graham Crosby and Ben Jabituya develop several prototype robots called S.A.I.N.T. (Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport) for the U.S. military to use in Cold War operations, though Crosby and Jabituya would rather seek peaceful applications of the robots. During a live demonstration for the military, one unit is struct by lightning, scrambling its programming and making it sentient. It escapes the NOVA facility.

The robot ends up in Astoria, Oregon and is found by Stephanie Speck, an animal care-giver, who mistakes it for an alien. She takes the robot to her home, where she provides it "input" in the form of visual and verbal stimuli, allowing the robot to improve its language skills, and eventually names itself "Number 5", being the 5th prototype produced. Speck continues to help the curious Number 5 learn about the world. She eventually discovers Number 5 was built by NOVA, and contacts them about the lost robot. NOVA's CEO Dr. Howard Marner orders Crosby and Jabituya to recover it so they can disassemble and rebuild it. While waiting for NOVA to arrive, Number 5 learns about death when he accidentally crushes a grasshopper, and concludes that if NOVA disassembles him, he will die, and escapes in Speck's truck. However, NOVA uses a tracking device on Number 5 to corner him and deactivate the robot for return to the facility. During transport, Number 5 is able to reactivate itself, remove the tracking device, and flee back to Steck.

Because of these unusual actions, Crosby tries to convince Marner that Number 5 may be sentient, but Marner refuses to believe this. Instead, Marner sends their security chief Captain Skroeder and three other S.A.I.N.T. prototypes to recapture Number 5. Number 5 is able to outwit the other robots by reprogramming them to act as The Three Stooges, and gets away. Taking a NOVA van with spare robot parts, Crosby finds Number 5 with Speck, and Number 5 is able to convince Crosby of his sentience. They find that Skroeder has called in the United States Army to capture Number 5. To protect Crosby and Speck, Number 5 leads the Army away from them and appears to be destroyed in a firefight. Marner laments the loss of the prototype and fires Skroeder, while Crosby resigns from NOVA, and drives away with Speck in the NOVA van. They are surprised to find that Number 5 had hid himself under the van, having quickly assembled a decoy Number 5 from the spare parts to lure the Army away. Crosby decides to take Number 5 to his father's secluded Montana ranch where there will be lots of "input" for the robot, and Speck agrees to come with them. As they drive off, Number 5 asserts that is name should now be "Johnny 5" based on the song "Who's Johnny" playing on the van's radio.

Cast[edit]

The voices of Number 1, Number 2 & Number 3 are uncredited

Production[edit]

Original Number 5 robot from the first Short Circuit film.

This film was conceived after the producers distributed an educational video about a robot to various colleges. Studying other films with a prominent robot cast (like the Star Wars series) for inspiration, they decided to question human reactions to a 'living' robot, on the premise that no one would initially believe its sentience.

According to the commentary in the DVD, Number 5 was the most expensive part of the film, requiring several different versions to be made for different sequences. Almost everything else in the film was relatively inexpensive, allowing them to allocate as much money as they needed for the robot character. Number 5 was designed by Syd Mead, the "visual futurist" famous for his work on Blade Runner and Tron.

Mead's design was greatly influenced by the sketches of Eric Allard, the Robotics Supervisor credited for "realizing" the robots. John Badham named Eric "the most valuable player" on the film.

Most of the arm movements of Number 5 were controlled by a "telemetry suit", carried on the puppeteer's upper torso. Each joint in the suit had a separate sensor, allowing the puppeteer's arm and hand movements to be transferred directly to the machine. He was also voiced in real-time by his puppeteer, the director believing that it provided for a more realistic interaction between the robot and the other actors than putting in his voice in post-production, although a few of his lines were re-dubbed later.[citation needed]

During Stephanie's impromptu news interview, director John Badham makes a cameo appearance as the news cameraman.

The sequence in the film depicting Number 5 watching the movie Saturday Night Fever (and imitating John Travolta's dance moves) is an in-joke: Saturday Night Fever and Short Circuit were both directed by John Badham.

Fisher Stevens said that when he was originally hired to play Ben Jabituya, the character was not intended to be Indian. Stevens was fired and replaced by Bronson Pinchot at one point, but then Pinchot left to do the sitcom Perfect Strangers, and Stevens was rehired.[3] To portray the role he had to grow a beard, dye his hair black, darken his skin with makeup, turn his blue eyes brown with contact lenses, speak with an East Indian accent and "walk hunched over like a cricket player."[4]

In 2009, Austin Pendleton, who had gone to college with Short Circuit director John Badham, stated "some stuff was cut out of my part in [Short Circuit]. And also the two leading roles were cast with really talented, attractive people who were not right for the parts. [The] script was just heartbreakingly beautiful to read. And now it's a nice little slightly bland kids' movie. Nothing exactly wrong with it. Those two people who are in the leads are good, very likeable, easy-to-work-with people, and have done some good work; they just weren't those people that were written in the script. And I said to John when it was about to open, 'Why did you cast them?' And he said, 'That was what the studio insisted on.' And it sort of ended the discussion. I said, 'Okay.' The film kind of works, but again, it was going to have been quite a beautiful film."

According to Pendleton, the role Steve Guttenberg ended up playing "was a person who could not relate to other human beings, so he poured all that into the creation of the robot. Well, Steve, he's a lovely guy, and I think he's talented... He had a wonderful kind of charisma. Very easy, but utterly social. He's just so very engaging and open with people. He's wonderful to be on a movie with... [But] he does not bring onscreen with him the problem that the character in that movie has... The perfect person for the role, 20 years earlier, would have been Dustin Hoffman. That thing that Dustin brought to The Graduate that a more affable actor would not have... A sense of utter alienation from everything around him."[5]

Soundtrack[edit]

Although no soundtrack album was released at the time, El DeBarge had a chart hit with the single "Who's Johnny (Theme from Short Circuit)."[6]

In 2008 Varèse Sarabande issued David Shire's score as part of their CD Club series of limited edition releases. The DeBarge song was not included or mentioned in the liner notes. The last three tracks are source music.

The booklet claims the end title song is not used in the film. It is, however, on the soundtrack. The finale mix and end title are combined into one track, but used separately in the film.

Short Circuit [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
No. Title Length
1. "Main Title" 2:13
2. "The Quickening/Off The Bridge" 2:44
3. "Discovering Number 5/Sunrise" 4:32
4. "Grasshopper/Joy(less) Ride" 4:43
5. "The Attack/Coming To" 3:47
6. "Road Block/Bathtub/Robot Battle" 2:42
7. "Getaway/Hello, Bozos" 2:41
8. "Night Scene/Joke Triumph" 4:17
9. "Danger, Nova/Escape Attempt/Aftermath" 3:48
10. "Finale/End Title: "Come And Follow Me" - Max Carl and Marcy Levy" 5:04
11. "Source Music: Rock" 3:39
12. "Source Music: Bar" 1:51
13. "Source Music: The Three Stooges" 1:08
Total length: 43:09

Video game[edit]

A video game developed by Ocean Software for ZX Spectrum,[7] Commodore 64[8] and Amstrad CPC[9] was also made based on the film. It featured two parts: one arcade adventure where Johnny 5 had to escape from the lab, and one action part where Johnny 5 escapes across the countryside, avoiding soldiers, other robots, and animals.

Reception[edit]

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics. It currently holds a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus: "Amiable and good-natured but also shallow and predictable, Short Circuit is hardly as deep or emotionally resonant as E.T. -- though Johnny Five makes for a charming robot protagonist."[10] Trade paper Variety wrote, "Short Circuit is a hip, sexless sci-fi sendup" and praised the writers "for some terrific dialog that would have been a lot less disarming if not for the winsome robot and Sheedy's affection for it. Guttenberg plays his best goofy self."[11] In The New York Times, Vincent Canby wrote, "The movie, which has the clean, well-scrubbed look of an old Disney comedy, is nicely acted".[12] The Sun-Sentinel gave a good review, saying, "Number Five is the real star of this energetic film. Sheedy, Guttenberg and company are just supporting players."[13] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times rated it 1.5 out of 4 four stars and called it "too cute for its own good".[14]

Short Circuit debuted at No. 1 in the US box office.[15] It grossed a total of $40,697,761, ranking it 21st for 1986 in the United States; it performed slightly better than other 1986 hits like Pretty in Pink, The Fly, Three Amigos, Little Shop Of Horrors and About Last Night.[16]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Honored with the Winsor McCay Award [for career achievement]
Awards
Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Saturn Awards
Best Director John Badham Nominated
Best Science Fiction Film Nominated
Best Special Effects Eric Allard, Syd Mead Nominated
BMI Film Music Award David Shire Won

Sequel and remake[edit]

The sequel, Short Circuit 2, premiered in 1988. There was a script for a possible third film written in 1989 and rewritten in 1990, but it was found unsatisfactory by the producers, and the project was subsequently scrapped.

Johnny 5 would later appear in an episode of Home, voiced by Peter Greenwood, and in a short educational film, Hot Cars, Cold Facts, voiced by Russell Turner.

In April 2008, Variety reported that Dimension Films had acquired the rights to remake the original film. Dan Milano had been hired to write the script, and David Foster to produce it. Foster said that the robot's appearance would not change.[17]

On October 27, 2009, it was announced that Steve Carr would direct the remake and that the film's plot would involve a boy from a broken family befriending the Number 5 robot.[18][19]

Carr left the project and on August 4, 2011, Deadline.com reported that Tim Hill would direct the reboot instead.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Short Circuit". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved May 30, 2017. 
  2. ^ Box Office Information for Short Circuit. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2009-08-19). "Fisher Stevens". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  4. ^ Weinstein, Steve (1988-08-02). "Shooting Stars : 'Short Circuit's' Stevens No Foreigner to Ethnic Roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  5. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2009-07-29). "Austin Pendleton". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 150. 
  7. ^ "Short Circuit". Worldofspectrum.org. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Lemon - Commodore 64, C64 Games, Reviews & Music!". Lemon64.com. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  9. ^ "Short Circuit by Ocean Software for the Amstrad CPC". Cpc-power.com. Retrieved 2015-07-18. 
  10. ^ "Short Circuit". Rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Review: 'Short Circuit'". Variety.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Movie Review : Partner Rotten Tomatoes : Short Circuit". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "`Short Circuit` Humming With Freewheeling Fun". Articles.sun-sentinel.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (1986-05-09). "Short Circuit". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  15. ^ "Short Circuit A Box-office Live Wire". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  16. ^ "1986 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "'Short Circuit's' Johnny 5 still alive". Variety.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "Steve Carr directing Short Circuit reboot". Totalfilm.com. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "'Short Circuit' gets 'Robot' touch - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  20. ^ Fleming, Mike (August 4, 2011). "Director Tim Hill Hops To Dimension's 'Short Circuit' Reboot". Deadline. Retrieved December 16, 2011. 

External links[edit]