Short Circuit 2

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Short Circuit 2
Short circuit two ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byKenneth Johnson
Written byBrent Maddock
S.S. Wilson
Produced byDavid Foster
Gary Foster
Lawrence Turman
CinematographyJohn McPherson
Edited byConrad Buff IV
Music byCharles Fox
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • July 6, 1988 (1988-07-06)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$21.6 million (domestic)[2]

Short Circuit 2 is a 1988 American comic science fiction film, the sequel to the 1986 film Short Circuit. It was directed by Kenneth Johnson and starred Fisher Stevens as Ben Jahveri, Michael McKean as Fred Ritter, Cynthia Gibb as Sandy Banatoni, and Tim Blaney as the voice of Johnny 5 (the main character – a friendly, naive, self-aware robot).


After being fired from Nova Robotics over the events of the first movie, Benjamin Jahveri (previously known as Jabituya) starts up his own business, "Titanic Toy Corporation", that specializes in making sophisticated toy robots that he makes by hand from the back of his truck. For two days, Ben has been in a big city implied to be New York City peddling his toy robots on the street corners. One robot wanders away from his stand and makes its way into the office of Sandy Banatoni, an assistant buyer for Simpsons' toy department. Sandy tracks Ben down and orders 1,000 of his toys. Overhearing this offer is con artist Fred Ritter, who smooth-talks his way into brokering the transaction between Ben & Sandy, becoming Ben's business partner in the deal, and later acquires the funding Ben needs from a loan shark.

Ben and Fred, with some new workers, move into a derelict warehouse which, unknown to them, is the base of operations for thieves who are tunneling into a bank vault across the street to steal a set of jewels known as the Vanderveer Collection. The thieves (Saunders and Jones) attack Ben and Fred and destroy their equipment, causing the new workers to run away and preventing them from completing Sandy's order. However, Ben's friends Stephanie Speck and Newton Crosby have sent Johnny 5, a human-sized sentient robot whom Ben helped to create. When Saunders and Jones return, Johnny fends them off, then sets up self-defense mechanisms should they try to break in. Johnny sets to work mass-producing the toys to meet Sandy's deadline but later leaves to explore the city. He runs afoul of many people, who are rude and unfriendly. However, he befriends one man, Oscar Baldwin, who works at the bank across the street from Ben and Fred's warehouse.

Fred, having learned that Johnny is worth $11 million, tries to sell the robot. Discovering this, Johnny escapes into the city, is taken into police custody, and is placed in the stolen goods warehouse, where he is claimed by Ben. Johnny uses his robotic abilities to help Ben court Sandy.

With time running out before the Vanderveer Collection is moved from the bank, Saunders and Jones lock Ben and Fred in the freezer of a Chinese restaurant. It is revealed that Oscar is the mastermind of the heist, and he tricks Johnny into finishing the tunnel leading to the vault. Ben and Fred get Sandy to save them, using polyphonic renditions of songs that Ben learned on his date with her as clues to their location. Having discovered the Vanderveer Collection, Johnny deduces Oscar's true intentions but is attacked by Saunders and Jones and is severely damaged. Fred attempts to repair him by breaking into a Radio Shack and following Johnny's guidance, but with limited success. Enraged by Oscar's betrayal, Johnny vows revenge and traps Oscar's accomplices. However, Oscar steals a boat and flees. Johnny uses a dockside crane and swings Tarzan-style to capture Oscar, who is apprehended by the police. After Johnny's main power supply runs dry, Ben keeps him alive with a defibrillator.

Following these events, Johnny is fully repaired and becomes a celebrity, while Sandy, Ben, and Fred start a new company with Johnny as its mascot. He and Ben later take the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens. After the ceremony, when questioned by reporters about his thoughts on becoming the country's first robotic citizen, a gold-plated Johnny leaps into the air and exclaims, "I feel alive!"



Principal photography of the film took place between September 13, 1987-December 1987 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada[1] Despite the film taking place in an American metropolis, much of the shots throughout the film featured prominent downtown Toronto landmarks.[3][4] Five robots were used for filming the "Johnny 5" character. Reported complications arose with their hydraulic and electrical systems due to rainy and cold weather during production.[1] The film's budget was reportedly $15 million.[1]

The movie was originally titled Short Circuit 2: More Input, as seen on much of the promotional material.[5]


Critical response[edit]

Short Circuit 2 received mixed reviews at the time of its original release. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 38% based on reviews from 13 critics, with an average rating of 4.1/10.[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave it a grade A-.[7]

Vincent Canby, writing in The New York Times, gave Short Circuit 2 a negative review. He wrote: 'For anyone over the age of 6, the film is as much fun as wearing wet sneakers.'[8] Rita Kempley, for The Washington Post, gave it a mixed review (6/10) with qualifiers saying: "Short Circuit 2 is unabashedly mawkish and sophomoric, and the actors support the technology. But if you're a kid, or an adult with an Erector Set, you might just enjoy this summer-weight caper."[9] Most of the positive reviews in fact were nice but accepting of the film's obvious flaws. Variety added: 'Mild and meek, Short Circuit 2 has an uncomplicated sweetness as a successful follow-up to the original robot kiddie comedy.'[10]

Siskel & Ebert, having disliked the first film, gave Short Circuit 2 "two thumbs up." Roger Ebert said the movie "will probably seem better the younger you are" but that it was "pleasant" and "entertaining." Gene Siskel called it "better than the original," said the dialogue made him "laugh out loud" and argued that "the movie works" because he "felt bad" when the robot was being attacked.[11] In a 1988 article printed in the Los Angeles Times, the review noted that 'Wilson and Maddock have improved considerably here....their construction is more deft, their dialogue is better, and they make Johnny 5 come more alive...'[12]

Box office[edit]

At the box office, Short Circuit 2 disappointed, landing in 7th place on its first weekend making only $3,843,067. It finished with $21,630,088, down almost half from what the first Short Circuit film made. It ranked 45th at the U.S. box office for 1988.[13]


The film was nominated at Saturn Awards in the categories Best Science Fiction Film and Best Special Effects (Eric Allard, Jeff Jarvis).

Home media[edit]

Short Circuit 2 was released on August 7, 2001 and re-released on DVD on April 24, 2007,[14] which included a "making-of featurette" on actor Fisher Stevens. In 2010, the film was released once again with alternative cover art. A Blu-ray disc of the film was released in April 2011, though no extras were included.

In 2021 a UK Blu-Ray release of the movie was released, with a number of extras including commentary by Kenneth Johnson.


Hot Cars, Cold Facts, made in 1990, is a short educational film featuring the character Johnny 5, voiced by Russell Turner. It also starred Gina Revarra as Lisa, John Hugh as Officer Dave and Donald Bishop as Howard. The film takes place after Short Circuit 2.


  1. ^ a b c d "AFI|Catalog".
  2. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  3. ^ "Reel Toronto: Short Circuit 2". Torontoist. March 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988) - IMDb" – via
  5. ^ Short Circuit 2 (1988), retrieved 2020-02-11
  6. ^ Short Circuit 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (1988). "Review/Film; More Adventures of a Robot". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  9. ^ Kempley, Rita (6 July 1988). "Short Circuit 2". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  10. ^ Variety Staff (31 December 1987). "Short Circuit 2". Variety. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  11. ^ Arthur 2: On the Rocks, Short Circuit 2, Coming to America, A Handful of Dust, License to Drive, 1988. January 1, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2021 – via Siskel and Ebert Movie Reviews.
  12. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1988-07-06). "MOVIE REVIEW : Number Five Comes Alive in 'Circuit 2'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  13. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
  14. ^ "Short Circuit 2 - DVD". Retrieved 2010-02-06.

External links[edit]