4 reasons Short Circuit 2 isn’t as good as the original (movie review)
Only Fischer Stevens (racist 80s stereotype character) and Tim Blaney (the voice of Johnny Five) return from the original cast in Short Circuit 2, a movie that exists because there was money to be made on the brand. The first movie was a harmony of creativity, old ideas with a new twist and commercial appeal, while this movie just cashes in on the first installment. Here are 4 reasons Short Circuit 2 doesn’t live up to the original.
New York! Because… New York!
So many sequels take place in New York City because it was the 80s and NYC had the best cocaine – I mean… uh…. moving the flick to Manhattan was the easiest way to differentiate it from the setting of the first movie. Everybody does it the second time around: Muppets Take Manhattan, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Babe: Pig in the City, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and a bunch of other movies I’m forgetting. I guess it’s just easier to change the locale and do a fish out of water story because it’s easier to write.
Needs more comedy!
So yeah, you’ve got your “To the moon, Alice!” and the “Have a seat, gentlemen!” stuff, but we also learn that the folks that made this movie were only able to learn one two words in Spanish, that being, “Los Locos,” or, “We’re crazy.” So that bit with the gang is just “We’re crazy and we will kick your ass, we’re crazy and we will kick your face, we’re crazy and we will kick your balls into outer space!” But if you substitute two words, suddenly, it’s authentic.
Right. Because New York City street gangs go skipping around talking in rhythm about how tough they are.
Also, why do so many movies have a scene where the protagonist gets in over their head with a tough crowd and then they almost immediately win them over? (See Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Dogma, Sherlock Holmes and countless over movies for examples of this.) Probably because it’s an easy way to tell us how awesome the protagonist is and we, as the audience, should therefore love them. This is a time-tested trope that will never go away, but this is my least favorite example.
Needs more drama! Needs higher stakes!
You know what the first Short Circuit was missing? Hilarious, racist comedy, horrible cruelty and insane violence. Whether Johnny Five is getting beat with an axe –
or swearing revenge on his enemies
going all action star on us
dying and getting resuscitated
or becoming the first robotic citizen of the United States
it’s a rollicking good time? Because he dies and gets resuscitated in this movie. You know… for kids!
We answered that question already
There’s a bit in this movie where Johnny Five reads Pinocchio and Frankenstein, but at this point in Johnny’s life, he’s no longer wrestling with these questions, because that’s what the first movie was about. He is alive, he is a soul, he lived with his creator and knows why he exists and that he defines his own purpose because, again, they already made that movie.
It’s not a terrible movie and it’s not even a bad movie – just take Short Circuit 2 for what it is – a sequel that, in an effort to be redundant, kinda goes too far. But what do I know? Both Siskel and Ebert liked the flick and Siskel thought it was better than the first one. I think the first flick is nuanced and has interesting points, dialogue and characters whereas the second one is a crazy fish out of water story that’s too insane for the target audience (kids) and too silly for anyone else, but that’s just me.