Today: April 19, 2024

Short Circuit

Eighties cult classic Short Circuit is pure daft fun.

Eighties cult classic Short Circuit is pure daft
Packed with goofy American humour and anchored by a warm
hearted moral about the universality of morality, the movie is a childhood
favourite for many and sure to become one for generations to come.

‘Number Five’ begins
existence as a lifeless robot, built to do the army’s bidding and act as a
cutting edge military deterrent.
Suddenly lightening strikes (literally), flooding consciousness through
his circuits and gifting him with a squeaky voice and instantaneous lust for
life. The now living machine sets
off on a hyper-curious exploration of the world, initially oblivious to the
panicking armed forces hot on his tail.

Newton Crosby is Number
Five’s charming genius inventor, modestly portrayed by a subdued Steve Guttenburg, and Ben Jebituya is
his stereotypical nerdy assistant-cum-sidekick, who is to prone to making
arguably excessively racy jokes for a PG rated film.

The onscreen oestrogen
and obligatory love interest comes in the shape of Stephanie Speck, an animal
loving, UFO believing pseudo-hippy.
Her heart is won by Number Five’s malice-free nature, and they enjoy a
dance in front of director John Badham’s
own Saturday Night Fever, playing on
the television. Ally Sheedy fills Speck’s character
with no small measure of irresistibility, delivering a spritely and memorable
performance in a film where for the most part the best actor is the robot.

Though patchy in
quality, the script is nothing if not upbeat and much mirth is to be had from
Number Five’s zany and surreal one-liners (“Hey, laser-lips, your mama was a
snowblower”)! Director John
Badham’s life affirming mid-career effort is heavily indebted to Steven Spielberg’s far superior E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, released
four years previously. Upon
discovering Number Five outside her house, Speck even thinks he is an alien,
and is delighted as he swiftly picks up human ways. The film does however carve it’s own unique spot in eighties
movie history, with an impressive character design crowned with ingeniously
emotive ‘eyebrows’.

Anyone with at least one
working eyeball will notice the plain-as-day similarities between Number Five
and WALL-E, with their caterpillar
perambulators and binocular optics.
Pixar’s Andrew Stanton stated that he ‘may have been subconsciously
influenced’ by Short Circuit, presumably using the subconscious as a metaphor
for tracing paper. The bottom line
of the matter is of course that Short Circuit came first, but WALL-E is the
better film.

It won’t move your soul,
unless you’re under five, and it won’t teach you anything new, unless you know
less than a dead piece of metal, but Short Circuit is mostly harmless escapism
fit for all the family (bar a few blue gags). It’s worth a look, and the kids will love it.

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