Artificial intelligence is not a new concept, nor is the idea of a robot gaining sentiance, but there is something magical about today’s Key Movie. Simply put, Johnny Five is Alive! That was the phrase we were all yelling in the late 80’s and with good reason. Marking the final Key Movies of My Life for 2019, this is Short Circuit.
Today’s Key Movie:
Build for battle, the S.A.I.N.T. robots make their successful debut in front of the US Military. However, creator Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) makes it very clear he disapproves of their militaristic use and, when one of the robots is struck by lightening, Newton must find a way to protect the rogue now sentient android with the help of Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy). It is now the US government vs Johnny 5 in a race to save the clever robot’s life.
Why this movie?
The first time I saw this film was on VHS. I distinctly remember my dad bringing home a cassette tape with a robot being struck by lightening on the cover art making me all the more interested in what was on said tape. The film was PG so my parents were fine with us watching it without them scanning it first (which they did on occasion when they realized the kinds of films we had been exposed to so far. Nothing ‘bad’ but a few questionable moments for sure.) so we were all in for a wonderful surprise.
From the start, this film was one that fell right in line with our love for ET, Goonies, and other similar films. It was fun safe and, soon this was a film that was on continuous rotation in our home. A day didn’t go by that we were not reenacting scenes from the film and wishing for our very own Johnny 5 android.
You like it, but is it really a ‘good’ movie?
This film is a delight. Not only do we get one of the most iconic robots of the 80’s, it also stars several of some of the decades best actors. Including Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Fisher Stevens and even, reuniting with Guttenberg from Police Academy, GW Baily, the cast in this film is one of the very best of it’s time. I can not say enough about how perfect everyone is in this one making every moment pure joy. From Guttenberg’s classic naive innocence, to Sheedy’s open acceptance of Johnny’s humanity, every moment, even the sad one’s, make this film one of the most memorable of it’s kind.
At it’s core, this is a film that explores the possibilities of a robot gaining sentiance and how humans would react. This concept has been explored many times over before and since but never with such heart. From the get go, Tim Blaney’s performance as Johnny Five gives the character such a depth that you soon forget that he is simply a remote controlled prop in a family scifi film. For pretty much anyone who watches this film, viewers develop a deep emotional connection with the android character making it far more than just metal and wires.
All in all, This is one of the best family films of the 80’s and one that has aged well since it’s original release. Johnny 5 remains one of the most well loved and remembered droids of all time securing his spot along with R2-D2, Terminator and even The Iron Giant. Yes, much like many of the films of the 80’s it is cursed with the use of stereotypes and some rather sappy moments but it’s innocence and positive message of acceptance manages to gloss over these slight missteps. Short Circuit would eventually spawn a sequel that, while lacking the emotional connection of the first film, was still fun to watch.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This one is a little more difficult to find in physical format outside of a DVD release. You can find it via most digital platforms, including VUDU and, if you are lucky, find a used copy of the Bluray for under $50. Frankly, this is one that really deserves an anniversary release in the coming years and, who knows, maybe a proper sequel. I mean, what is Steve Guttenberg doing these days?
Regardless of how you see it, if you haven’t seen it or haven’t introduced your children to this film, you are doing them a grave disservice. This is a perfect example of a quality 80’s film that is fully family safe and genuinely fun. Go find a copy and bring Johnny 5 into your life.
As usual here is the trailer:
Late To The Game 12/26/2019
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