Thursday, August 04, 2011

Dimension to take a Number Two on Number Five

"Short Circuit" is one of those not-bad little movies that kids in the 80s tended to grow up with on heavy VHS rotation; which helpfully explains why news that it's landed on the reboot list has half the web reporting this as dire news (director is Tim Hill, late of the live-action "Chipmunks" movies) and the other half reporting it in the context of being snarky about people having an opinion about kitschy 80s reboots.
The original film was about a prototype military combat-robot (one of a set) that attained sentience after being struck by lightning and went on the run to avoid being disassembled ("killed") for research. Supposedly it was concieved as a killer-robot-rampage movie, but eventually became a comedy ("Johnny Five" communicates almost-exclusively in childish jokes and pop-culture references.) It's somewhat noteworthy in being a "wacky nonhuman buddy" movie that was otherwise cast exclusively with adults as opposed to precocious kids... and somewhat notorious for Fisher Stevens' (now an Oscar Winner as producer of "The Cove!") eh, "broad" portrayal of an Indian computer wiz.

At one point the "reboot" script was a psuedo-sequel with a little kid meeting the original(?) Johnny Five, not sure if that's still the case. Part of me would like to see this be a "pretend-this-is-something-people-have-been-waiting-for" deal, possibly with NOVA running the drone/armed-robot stuff in Afghanistan. Johnny Five versus his "modern" counterparts? I'd pay to see that, sure.


Joe said...

Short Circuit's one of those mid-80s properties like ALF. When I was 8 or 9, it was the funniest thing in the world. Seeing it 20 years later, I went "how did I ever like this vapid drivel?"

Back then, you could get away with a lot of things in a PG kids' movie that I'm not so sure would fly in today's Hollywood. How would Johnny Five's stint helping Latino gangsters steal car stereos while singing about kicking your balls into space be received by modern audiences?

Sylocat said...

I thought they already did a gritty reboot of Short Circuit, and called it WALL•E.

Jonny Pratt said...

Jonny 5 vs the terminator... vs predator. BAM! best movie ever

Dav3 said...

I LOVED these movies as a kid. I still quote Johnny-5 almost daily, (like every time a promo for NOVA comes on screen in my house, somebody WILL say, "Danger! Nova!" It's completely reflexive at this point, like saying "God Bless You" when someone sneezes)

I'll admit the movies are very dated, and I don't care that Ben's character is vaguely racist because I think it's done in an innocent manner, and those mixed metaphors are so damn funny. (I'd nominate the line, "With friends like these, who is needing enemas?" as one of the funniest lines ever in a movie.)

I think the movies are a must-see on a number of levels. As a sentient-robot movie, as a buddy movie with a twist, just as a representative of the early 90's. If you just want to be entertained they're "meh", but if you're a true student of film I think you have to see them.

I know it sounds crazy, but the scene in Short Circuit 2 where the bad guys beat him nearly to death, STILL makes me cry (and I'm 26 now) If you haven't seen it, the fact that it's just a robot/puppet means they could make it MUCH more violent than a PG movie should be. Then you add to that the fact that Johnny-5 is essentialy a child, completely innocent, totally trusting, and the bad guys beat him nearly to death with crowbars while he begs for mercy...

I mean, remember Rainman? Now imagine if while they're in the casino Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman get seperated and some sleazy criminals get Dustin Hoffman to count cards for them. When they're done, to coverup the crime, they take him out back and just beat the living shit out of him.

Maybe it's just because I loved Johnny-5 so much as a child, but that's still how it makes me feel when I see it.