Ever since the release of the Toy Story movies, I've suffered a gnawing guilt over those childhood toys left behind or lost. After watching Short Circuit I'm afraid I'll feel a similar distress when I finally get rid of our clunky, old VCR. Who's to say there's not a spark of life in that antiquated AV appliance or my inanimate playmates?
Short Circuit takes place in the era before the Toy Story neurosis existed. Disco rules, John Travolta is hot for the first time, Moscow is the enemy, and the military is introducing their newest fighting machine: a robotic soldier that can mix drinks and take out an enemy with equal finesse. The creator of these tools of destruction is Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) a computer geek who has spent a good part of his adult life sequestered in a science lab.
During a summer storm, one of his prototypes, Number Five, is jolted to life by an electrical circuit overload. Making a serendipitous escape from Nova headquarters, Number Five lands in the care of Stephanie Speck (Ally Sheedy), the local softy for lost animals. Stephanie's maternal instincts kick in when the fledgling robot asks for input. Using books, pictures and finally the TV, she helps feed Number Five's voracious appetite for information.
Meanwhile, fearing the worst, a full scale military manhunt is initiated under the glowering command of Nova's security chief. Determined to save his design from total destruction, Newton sets out with his lewd-mouthed assistant whose sex-laden comments about women cast a disparaging shadow on the racial group he portrays. As operations are bungled, the security chief is not the only one who resorts to rapid fire profanities and terms of Deity to express his frustrations. Explosions and gunshots during the military's seek and destroy mission and the punch and tackle encounters of Stephanie and her abusive ex may cause concern for some families especially with young children.
Like a precocious preschooler, Number Five starts out full of questions and over time matures into a clever and creative humanoid who uses his "head" to outwit the military. So maybe I wasn't crazy when I accused my vacuum cleaner of have a mind of its own!