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In 1986, John Badham directed the box office hit widely beloved by millennials, Short Circuit. This comedic film follows Johnny 5, a military robot on his journey to understanding humanity.
The film starts in a Nova Laboratory, a pair of robotics Newton Crosby and Ben Jabituya (actors Steve Guttenburg and Fisher Stevens) plan to make prototype robots labeled Strategic Artificially Intelligent Nuclear Transport (S.A.I.N.T.) to benefit them in the Cold War. Being used for the military, the Nova Lab decided to have a showcase for the new weapons of war. While presenting their inventions, one of the robots S.A.I.N.T #5, has made its way into the power grid of the plant and gets struck by lightning. This causes the programming within the robot to malfunction and S.A.I.N.T. #5 becomes sentient and able to understand the concept of feelings. Gaining this knowledge unknown to a machine, S.A.I.N.T #5 escapes the facility and finds itself in Astoria, Oregon. When he arrives, an animal supervisor Stephanie Speck (actress Ally Sheedy) finds #5 and mistakes the military grade robot for an alien. While the pair is together, Speck starts teaching #5 the English language and how the world around her functions. With her teachings, S.A.I.N.T. #5 has advanced its knowledge and names itself “Number 5”. In addition, for the remainder of the movie Number 5 is referenced to as a “he” because of the tone and nature of the sentient robot.
After Speck is comfortable with Number 5, she has gained the knowledge that he is a prototype built by NOVA and contacts the laboratory to report the lost robot. NOVA explains to Speck that when Number 5 arrives, he is going to be taken in to be disassembled and rebuilt. Number 5 quickly learns that “disassembled” is a way to “kill” a machine. In a fear for his “life” he rushes away. However, NOVA has implanted a tracking device inside Number 5 and he is eventually caught and gets in route back to the NOVA Laboratory. Howard Marner (actor Austin Pendleton) refuses to agree with the idea of a robot being sentient and gets the United States Military involved into the search for Number 5.
Meanwhile, Number 5 and Speck have gotten a hold of a spare NOVA van with extra robot parts. While driving, they are all found by the armed forces and Number 5 seems to be destroyed by an explosive that they fire at him. To Speck’s surprise, Number 5 had built and entirely new prototype using the extra robot parts in the van and simply rolled the fake Number 5 so he would not be “disassembled”. With a joyful Number 5, a song plays on the radio titled “Who’s Johnny” and Number 5 names himself the beloved, Johnny 5.
All actors in the Short Circuit film contributed to the overall success of the film, but companion to Johnny 5, Stephanie Speck is unlike others.
Most famous for her role in The Breakfast Club as Allison Reynolds, Ally Sheedy is a successful actress that has made cameos and major roles in movies adored by the public. Ally Sheedy was born on June 13th, 1975 in New York City into two working but separated parents. Her mother Charlotte was a press agent and advocated for women’s and civil rights. Her father, John Sheedy was an advertising executive. These careers seem to go hand in hand yet their relationship was not, and this may have caused their divorce in 1971. This sets Ally Sheedy into a rough place with both parents not supporting a growing young actress. Although, this did not halt Ally’s path to success. She scores roles in various TV shows and eventually begins her career in the acting industry. Having small roles in local television shows, Ally was content with her career; until she hit her peak in the 1980’s.
She appeared in films such as, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, Short Circuit, and Maid to Order. Even being extremely successful in her roles, her individual acting skills were not noticed until she starred in the film High Art (1998) where she played a drug addicted photographer and won three Best Actress awards. After her run of successful films and cameos, she spiraled off into the musical theatre industry and was the first woman playing a genderqueer character in the musical production, Hedwig and The Angry Inch (1999). Meanwhile, in 1992 she decided to settle down and marry David Lansbury, a former actor himself. Two years later, Ally gave birth to a baby girl that grew into a transgender young man named Beckett. Yet soon after, Ally and David filed for divorce in 2008. Every actor has a story that is continuously spilled to the public; but this did not stop Ally Sheedy from having a successful career and striving to this day with a $6 million net worth and a positive attitude towards her own past as it has shaped her to the Ally Sheedy the public will surely remember.
Despite having a major following that say that Short Circuit is a classic film enjoyable for the whole family, on the more critical standpoint, it is not nearly as effective as films such as E.T and WALL-E. It is virtually agreeable that Short Circuit is a movie that can be watched again for nostalgic or plain entertainment purposes, but many have agreed that aspects as casting choice, special effects, and story line make it a simple film. Overall, the tone of the movie is fairly inconsistent; with the random places of adult humor, childish humor, and other film parodies. Causing the film nearly making a failed attempt to be enjoyable to all audiences. Along with the occasional inconsistencies, the film also sneaks in a philosophical discussion on what is considered humanity and what is not.
This idea will be carried on into future films in which robots or non-human entities commit human-like actions and seemingly have human emotions. Having that idea being sprinkled in throughout the film is another attempt in making the movie safe for the younger audiences and understandable to the adult audience. The making of this production was a vastly different process than it is today in 2018 with advanced computers and programming. To elaborate, the special effects budget was affected since all of the available money was used into the creation of Johnny 5. Director John Badham desired actors to be exposed to a physical robot rather than having a green screen box in substitute. This directional choice, while might not be noticeable at times, makes an immense impact on how the final production ended. Many critics have stated that the movie is fairly predictable and there are no major plot twists and, in the end, make the movie somewhat “bland” or “boring.” On the contrary, there are audiences that enjoy a simple movie with a plain plot to simply sit down and enjoy with family. The movie’s intended audience is the younger crowd of straightforward movie lovers.
Nonetheless, the film Short Circuit will be in the line of successful Sci-Fi movies for its comedic and emotional impact it has on viewers. The critics and praises of the movie blend together to make the family friendly feature film watched to this day.
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