Murphy’s Law – So it’s come to this: a Short Circuit remake

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

At times, I wish “Hollywood” was an actual person so that I could punch him in the throat.

That may sound harsh, but I feel like my anger is completely justified. After all, lately Hollywood has been on a mission to remake everything cherished from my childhood – including this summer’s G.I. Joe and Transformers films – and it seems like they won’t rest until there is nothing left. They are going too far and they need to be stopped (or, at the very least, throat punched).

This week’s anger-inducing, childhood-wrecking announcement comes from Dimension Films, which is currently developing a remake of Short Circuit. For you young whippersnappers out there unfamiliar with the original cinematic masterpiece, Short Circuit is the story of Johnny 5, a military robot who is struck by lightning and suddenly becomes self-aware. The military tries to track him down so that they can wipe his memory clean and have him once again become a killing machine, but he befriends a woman named Stephanie who tries to convince the government scientists to keep him just as he is.

It’s a fun little movie starring Steve Guttenberg (the king of 80s movies with ridiculous premises), Ally Sheedy and Fisher Stevens (as the mandatory over-the-top stereotypical foreign guy). I won’t pretend that it was high art or anything, but it’s solidly entertaining and HBO used to run it non-stop in the late 80s and early 90s, so I watched it roughly 80 million times growing up. It was one of those movies that I would always watch no matter what part it was at, so needless to say, it occupies a special place in my heart.

But Hollywood is heartless, so they don’t care about my childhood nostalgia. They only care about squeezing every last drop of cash from the 80s before they move on to remaking 90s films. And since they know there is zero chance that I will ever jump on board with this remake, they decided to throw an extra poke in the eye my way by hiring the guy who did Paul Blart: Mall Cop to direct this travesty.

And they didn’t stop there. They know to make this movie truly unwatchable, they will also need to make idiotic changes to the script based on advice from some unwashed focus group comprised of random people who had nothing better to do at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday and probably have no intention of seeing the film anyway. That’s most likely how we ended up with this little tidbit: “Scripted by Dan Milano (Robot Chicken), the remake is a robot reboot that brings the iconic Johnny 5 into the 21st century. Built by the military to be a highly sophisticated weapon, Johnny 5 develops a conscience and personality after being hit by lightning. He befriends a lonely boy and his fractured family.”

“We’re bringing Number 5 into the 21st Century and taking advantage of the improvements in robotics that are so massive that robots are now performing heart surgeries in hospitals,” Producer David Foster said.

So basically, they are going to completely change the way Johnny 5 looks (and probably acts). Instead of being the adorable, clunky 80s robot, he will be some slick Michael Bay-style “modern” robot that is completely CGI and lacks the charisma and soul of the original. And, they’ve replaced Ally Sheedy with some little kid with daddy issues. I’m willing to bet that Johnny 5 helps the family patch up their problems and, with any luck, Dan Milano will tack on some ham-handed lesson or social commentary to the end of this thing.

It’s one thing to be so uncreative that you have to remake other people’s ideas. But it’s arrogant and misguided to think that you can also “improve” the source material by modernizing and overcomplicating the robot and by tacking on a ridiculous plot involving a kid and his broken family. You are remaking this movie because it is good and because people liked it – no one ever sat there and said, “Man, I love Johnny 5, but why is he hanging around this charming single woman? I’d much rather he spend his time with some snot-nosed kid whose dad is too busy working on a big corporate merger to come to his T-ball games.”

Then again, if these people were that smart, they never would have attempted to remake this movie in the first place. Or, they would have at least been intelligent enough to realize this movie already was remade recently – by Pixar. It was called Wall-E. And it was a far better movie than this train wreck will end up being.

Now, some of you out there might think I’m overreacting. I’m judging a movie that hasn’t even begun filming yet. Not only that, I’m getting worked up about a remake of a movie that came out 23 years ago, one that starred Steve Guttenberg and was intentionally campy and ridiculous.

But this is about more than that. Those of you who know me (or have at least bothered to read my bio tacked to the end of every single one of these columns) know that as a general rule, I hate robots. They are soulless little killing machines that will one day rise up and kill us all. You all waste your time thinking about zombies, but zombies aren’t real. Robots are. And one day, they will become self-aware and they will destroy us all. It’s going to happen – that’s why every movie ever made about robots always ends with a robot apocalypse … except Short Circuit.

Short Circuit was always the one exception. Johnny 5 was a different kind of robot. He was made to be a killing machine, but became self-aware and decided to be a pacifist. It was such a refreshing notion. I mean, in the second movie, he even got rid of the laser on his shoulder. He was a lover, not a fighter.

And now, Dimension films and the guy who made Paul Blart are out to destroy my one happy robot memory. The one beacon of hope that for years has kept me from throwing out all of my electrical devices and living inside a candle-lit bomb shelter is going to be stripped away from me by greedy Hollywood fatcats.

Don’t take this away from me, Hollywood. Don’t make me throat punch you. No disassemble!

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

  1. Will D. October 28, 2009
  2. Joelle October 28, 2009
  3. Thor October 28, 2009
  4. Bill October 28, 2009
  5. Milhouse44 October 28, 2009
  6. Joel Murphy October 28, 2009
  7. Amanda October 28, 2009
  8. Sasparilla Gretsch October 29, 2009

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