A double bill of family adventures. In 'Short Circuit', a reclusive inventor (Steve Guttenberg) has developed a range of robots with the ability to destroy entire cities, but at a military demonstration, robot number 5 is struck by lighting and is given a life of its own. When the Authorities want it terminated, Number Five goes into hiding with a fanatical animal lover, (Ally Sheedy), and eventually becomes a pacifist. Whilst in 'Flight of the Navigator', a 12-year-old boy, David Freeman is abducted by aliens. Eight years later he returns to Earth, still as a 12-year-old but with astounding navigational powers and the ability to fly his spacecraft wherever he wants. This soon attracts the interests of top-secret government departments who view him as a security risk since his mind has become the key to travelling through time and space.
John Badham's family-orientated adventure comedy Short Circuit
, though obviously hatched in the wake of E.T.
and Star Wars
, manages to create its own identity through a sweet tone and an affectionate sense of fun. Military robot Number 5, a well-armed killing machine, is zapped by lightning during a test and emerges with a wacky sense of humour and a new peace-loving philosophy. Ally Sheedy (who debuted in Badham's hit WarGames
) is the animal-lover whose home is sanctuary for a zoo-full of strays and who adopts the adolescent robot. Steve Guttenberg is the goofy but reclusive robotics designer who goes off in search of his creation to save him from the gun-happy army.
The mix of gentle slapstick and innocent romance makes for a harmless family comedy. It veers toward the terminally cute, what with Number 5's hyperactive antics and E.T.-ish voice, and the mangled grammar of Guttenberg's East Indian sidekick (Fisher Stevens) threatens to become offensive, but Badham's breezy direction keeps the film on track. Sheedy and Guttenberg deliver spirited and engaging performances, but most importantly the robot emerges as a real person. Give credit to designer Syd Mead, an army of puppeteers and robotics operators, and the cartoony voice of Tim Blaney: Number 5 is alive. --Sean Axmaker
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.