Plot: What’s it about?
Ben Jahrvi (Fisher Stevens) has ventured from the tame countryside to the rushed climate of New York, in an effort to become an American citizen. He has studied to no end and knows the material, but he still worries, as he wants to be an American more than anything. He also wants to make a good living and in order to do that, he sells small robots on the street corners, robots of Number Five, his old friend. As he speaks with Fred Ritter (Michael McKean), a fake Rolex seller on the same corner, one of the small robots gets away and ends up in the hands of Sandy (Cynthia Gibb) an executive for a major toy company. She and her boss love the robot and want to purchase some from Ben, but she needs a thousand of them within thirty days. Ben makes them out of his truck and can’t handle an order like that, but Fred steps in and offers to help, which means renting a building and a small staff. But then a band of thugs show up and trash the place, which leaves Ben with no product and an impossible deadline. But then a visit from an old friend changes everything and in this case, I do mean everything.
I liked the original Short Circuit, so I ended up liking this sequel also, but in truth, I like this installment even better than the first. The original was more of an attempt at a substantial film, one with comedy, action, romance, and a message, whereas this one is more of a traditional comedy, which I think works a little better. The first one is good and has a place in my collection, but I prefer this one, because of the focus on humor and of course, Number Johnny Five. Fisher Stevens is also given the lead here and he runs with it, giving the movie a second lead and tons of humor, a terrific performance indeed. I also think the presence of Michael McKean, Cynthia Gibb, and others help, since the cast has a little depth involved. This is not rocket science however, so the jokes remain a little corny and Stevens’ Indian stereotype is played up, so the humor is by no means high end. This is a harmless, fun movie however and as such, I can recommend it to all those interested. But since Columbia/Tristar has added no real bonus materials, a rental will suffice for all those except the most devoted fans of the flick.
The man moved into the head human role here is Fisher Stevens, who handles the shared screen very well, unlike Steve Guttenberg in the original. Stevens keeps pace with Number Five and then some, thanks to the nuances of his performances, mostly due to the personality of his character. Stevens is given a very likable character in the first place, but he enhances all the positives even more, which helps keep the audience on his side. I love the interaction between Stevens and Number Five, from their small arguments to normal conversations, as they seem very natural. Stevens also has some terrific solo moments, but most of his best stuff is when he plays off others, which he can do often here. You can also see Stevens in such films as Short Circuit, Super Mario Bros., The Burning, Bob Roberts, and Hackers. The cast also includes Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show), Jack Weston (The Thomas Crown Affair, Dirty Dancing), and Cynthia Gibb (Death Warrant, Youngblood).
Video: How does it look?
Short Circuit 2 is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame edition included on the disc’s flip side. I had low hopes for this film’s visual presence here, but Columbia/Tristar has issued a fantastic treatment. I never expect much from 1980s movies, but this one looks great and while some rough spots are present, I think fans will be thrilled here. I found the print to be flawed, but cleaner than I had counted on, while the image is not nearly as soft I had anticipated. I figured Short Circuit 2 would look a little washed out, but colors are strong and remain consistent, which is good news. The contrast is stable and allows for good detail levels, though black levels aren’t as sharp as I’d like. All in all, this presentation has some problems, but still looks far better than I expected, so kudos to Columbia/Tristar on this one.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was pleased with the 2.0 surround option used here, although it won’t be used as a demo track, to be sure. The presentation is solid and that’s about it, although with this kind of material, I won’t complain much. It sparks when it needs to and the music sounds great, with adds a little more depth to the experience. The vocals are in top form at all times, with no volume or clarity issues to contend with. This won’t blow your socks off by any means, but it is above average and gets the job done. This disc also includes language options in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, as well as subtitles in English, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A brief behind the scenes featurette is included, but no other supplements can be found.