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Film / Short Circuit 2

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Short Circuit 2 is a film released in 1988, serving as a sequel to Short Circuit which was released two years prior. It was directed by Kenneth Johnson instead of John Badham.

The movie centers on Benjamin Jabituya (now inexplicably called Benjamin "Jahrvi"), who helped program Number Five and was blackballed as a result. Living out of a truck, Ben now hustles little NOVA-inspired toys in Manhattan, but he's having problems getting production up to speed. So, Stephanie sends Number Five, now calling himself Johnny Five, who is a one robot production line. Unfortunately, Ben's business partner Fred Ritter (Michael McKean) sees bigger opportunities. But all this takes a back seat to Johnny being manipulated by thieves to help in a bank heist, which shatters Johnny's naiveté and leaves him wanting revenge.

The film contains examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Number Five, like in the first film. It's only after a positively brutal attempt on his life that he actively seeks to use violence to stop the robbers, and even then, still does so without causing unecessary harm.
  • American Robot: Johnny Five, as of the epilogue of the movie.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: Johnny Five is duped into tunnelling underground to break into a bank in the sequel. Following many robberies in the 70s, vault technology changed rapidly in the 1980s to make them resistant to such attack, being fitted with seismic sensors. Unless Oscar told him he switched them off (as part of an inside-job) Johnny would've set off alarms long before entering the safety deposit box. Johnny's tunnel boring parts would also be worn out halfway under the road, and need changing.
  • Ascended Extra: While Ben was already part of the main cast in the first film, he got a bigger billing in the sequel.
  • Attack Drone: A non-lethal variation. As Johnny 5 is being brutally beaten by the thieves, he uses his antenna to hijack a kid's remote-control airplane and use it to chase away the thieves.
  • Badass Boast: From Los Locos:
    Los Locos: Los Locos kick your ass! Los Locos kick your face! Los Locos kick your balls into outer space!note 
  • Badass Unintentional: Johnny Five in this movie, since he's a Technical Pacifist.
  • Bank Robbery: Oscar's scheme, and the reason why he wants to seize Johnny Five.
  • Barehanded Bar Bending: Johnny Five pulls off the pretzel variant when attacked by thieves trying to get him off their tail. Being an Actual Pacifist turned Technical Pacifist, he discards the bent beam and uses his metal-bending strength to contain one thief by rolling him up in a mesh fence.
  • Become a Real Boy: One of the plot points of the movie is Johnny Five's quest to be recognized as sentient. He eventually is, and becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen alongside Ben at the end.
  • Berserk Button: Oscar triggers a rare moment of anger on Johnny Five for threatening him and his friends.
    "You will not get away! I am really pissed off!!"
  • Bloodless Carnage: The attack against Johnny 5, although there is a lot of Machine Blood in the form of battery fluid.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Unlike in the first film, Johnny 5 does exhibit this after he is brutally attacked by the bad guys...
    "Piece of corn! Can of cake! Suck doup..."
  • The Cameo: Ally Sheedy has an uncredited vocal one in the second one when Number Five reads the letter Stephanie sends Ben in her voice.
  • Character Development: Ben graduates from a Chivalrous Pervert Funny Foreigner to a three-dimensional protagonist Funny Foreigner between films.
  • Chrome Champion: Johnny's makeover in the epilogue of Short Circuit 2. He looks like R.O.B. mated with an Academy Award.
  • Confessional: At one point in the movie, Johnny rolls his way into a church confessional. He gets chased away by the priest, who assumes he's a telepresence device, and tells the "person on the other end" to come to church personally if he wishes to confess.
  • Cute Machines: Number/Johnny Five is intended as this, but the little Johnny Five toys take the cake. Notable in that Johnny's appearance changes shortly after his accident, to differentiate him from the other four prototypes and make him look slightly less sinister. He loses an apparently-useless box on the top of his head and an armored cowling over the little blinky-light thing that he uses to talk. He also keeps his "eyelids" open, giving him an innocent, wide-eyed look in contrast to the other robots, who keep their eyelids closed, leaving only a slit to see out of, which makes them look like they're scowling or frowning.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the first film, there are some scary moments. Such as Oscar and his gang destroying Johnny 5 and leaving him for dead. This is the movie where it looks like his life is really in danger.
  • Do-Anything Robot: In this film, Johnny Five has retained the tool kit arm, upgraded the parachute to a hang glider, swapped the laser for a "utility pack" featuring everything from an umbrella to a grappling hook to a plasma cutter powerful enough to cut through a bank vault wall, and added a "multi-frequency remote control" that lets him control almost anything electrical within range.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Johnny. When he wants to push past someone (usually Fred) he tends to toss him halfway across the room. And he gives trouble to two police officers when they arrest him for trashing the bookstore.
    Johnny Five: I am NOT stolen goods! (slams fists on the table, yanking the police officers down)
  • Dumb Muscle: One of Oscar's lackeys. Jones, who, despite being The Brute of the group, impatiently ignores his genius partner's Techno Babble advice before going after Johnny 5.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment: Johnny develops this after getting nearly beaten to death by the thieves and also getting a temporary repair job done to him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Oscar and his goons may be willing do almost anything to get away with their diamond-stealing scheme, but they draw the line at murder, only imprisoning Ben and Fred in a restaurant freezer to get them out of the way. Unfortunately for them, the fact that they're still willing to savagely beat Johnny Five to death because their standards don't extend to HIM is the last straw that drives him into a state of vengeful fury. Possibly the only time this trope has functioned as a hero's Berserk Button. Even then, while he went through with it, ultimately, one of said goons looked visibly uncomfortable with murdering Johnny 5.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Subverted. When Ben and Fred are locked in a freezer and rig a calculator to send a message to Sandy's answering machine, they discover that neither of them know Morse code. Instead, they send directions to their location using the tunes of popular songs.
  • Everything Is Online: Johnny 5 replaces his shoulder-mounted laser with a radio that can hack things. He uses it to shut down cars by triggering their burglar alarms and pilot remote-controlled model airplanes. However, in the last few minutes of the movie, when the villain is escaping in a boat, Johnny 5 tries to use it on the boat, but it doesn't work because it is not radio-controlled.
  • Evil Old Folks: Oscar Baldwin, a dangerous bank robber who plans to use Johnny Five for his machinations.
  • Exact Time to Failure: When Johnny 5 is worked over by the goons, a countdown timer on his control panel shows how much time he has left before his ruptured battery drains and shuts him down. As can be expected, he stops the baddies in time and is repaired with only a few seconds of "life" remaining.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Johnny Five dons an eyepatch of sorts it's actually his nonfunctional eye being held in place and covered by electrical tape during the third act of the movie. Its reveal marks a second mood shift in the film and begins his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Failing a Taxi: Johnny Five is repeatedly ignored by taxis until he resorts to reeling one in with his grappling hook.
  • False Friend:
    • Oscar. You really ought to see it coming, but he's so jolly that many viewers don't.
    • Johnny thinks of Fred as this after Fred tries to sell him, but they patch things up later. In Fred's defence, he wasn't aware at the time that Johnny really was alive.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Johnny Five's ridiculously graphic maiming at the hands of the bank robbers.
  • Fantastic Racism: Johnny seems to believe this is the reason Oscar tried to kill Johnny, but only locked Ben and Fred in a freezer. . It's hard to say he's wrong.
    Johnny Five: Oh sure, kidnap the humans, (angrily) destroy the machine!
  • Fast Tunneling: Zigzagged. The bad guys' plan involves tunneling under the bank vault a set of valuable jewels are being held before they're taken to a museum for display. It's implied they had started the tunnel quite a while before our heroes unwittingly shack up in the building above their operation, and with their presence interrupting their digging, they'll never be able to make it to the vault in time. Once they trick Number 5 into doing their job for them, he blazes the rest of the trail to the vault in a few hours.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Fred treats Johnny like he's his personal butler (partly because Ben kept him in the dark about Johnny's AI), then tries to sell him to some corporate bigwigs, prompting Johnny to unleash the white hot rage: "He is NOT my friend!" However, after Johnny is nearly killed by Oscar's mooks, Fred scours the city for him and later repairs him single-handedly. By the end of the movie, they've become an Adventure Duo.
  • Foreshadowing: Oscar's goons destroying the Johnny 5 replica early in the film. Specifically, that it was done with an axe.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Happens when Johnny is mortally wounded by Oscar and his mooks and rapidly leaking battery acid. Fred tears off part of the very expensive shirt he's taken pride in throughout the movie to bandage Johnny and try and slow his "bleeding".
  • Funny Foreigner: Benjamin Jabituya. In the first movie, he was more of a Plucky Comic Relief character. But in this movie, his last name is retconned to Jahrvi and gets a more serious story, while still being funny.
  • Happily Ever After: The letter from Stephanie in this film implies this to be the case for her and Newton after the first film.
  • Heroic RRoD: After his brutal beating, Johnny pursues Oscar's gang despite being badly damaged and leaking battery fluid. He eventually catches them but loses power and nearly dies.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • Johnny Five befalls the other S.A.I.N.T. robots and the bank robbers multiple times. Basically anyone who goes up against Johnny Five is doomed to suffer one of these.
    • Johnny himself gets one through the entire movie, as it's brutally pointed out to him at every turn that, aside from Newton, Stephanie, and Ben, not a single human being believes he's truly alive. A Catholic priest shoos him out of a church believing him to be nothing more than a telepresence device, the police impound him as stolen property instead of arresting him, and Los Locos, Fred, and Oscar all take advantage of his naive and trusting nature to get what they want out of him.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Johnny has his laser weapon removed in favor of a Batman-esque utility pack.
  • Improvised Bandage: Towards the end of the film, Johnny is "bleeding" battery acid after nearly being beaten to death by some thugs after they've tricked him into helping their robbery. Fred Ritter (who'd previously tried to sell Johnny to a company) finds him, and sacrifices his prized silk shirt to staunch it.
  • Is This What Anger Feels Like?: This happens to Johnny 5 when he figures out Oscar had betrayed him, Ben, and Fred. He and Fred end up pursuing Oscar across New York City while he is bleeding to death (from a battery leak).
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After seeing Johnny easily overpower Jones, Saunders immediately surrenders.
    Johnny: Excuse me, could you put your arms down please?
    Saunders: (immediately complies) Sure.
    Johnny: Thank you.
    Saunders: You're welcome.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Two examples from this film:
    • The first time Oscar's goons try to beat him up, Johnny grabs the pipes they are using and shouts, "Bad humans!" (complete with Red Eyes, Take Warning) before swinging them around and launching them out of the warehouse door.
    • After the goons successfully beat him up and Fred repairs him, Johnny fixes a mohawk to his head and growls, "All right, let's party!" before going out for revenge.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Johnny Five goes through this after being beaten and left for dead by the villains, out of sheer anger that they merely kidnapped his friends, but flat out tried to KILL him. He even dons a mohawk-like set of spikes for the occasion.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Ben and Fred in the second movie.
  • Machine Blood: Johnny 5 is leaking battery fluid after being damaged by the villains. His friend Ben outright says he's bleeding to death, and he even applies a makeshift tourniquet.
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie is a light comedy until the scene where Oscar has his goons brutally smash up Johnny 5 in near slow-motion. There's even a scene where one of the attackers is hit in the ass with a toy RC plane and goofily hobbles away, then the movie immediately cuts back to Johnny 5 dying on the sidewalk.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Johnny 5 discovers that his new friend Oscar was a criminal mastermind and confronts him about it, but gets cornered by his henchmen and then beaten to a robotic pulp for his troubles. Ironically because he's a robot, the film is able to show the full extent of just how brutally they tear the crap out of him, not helped by the sprays of red battery fluid as he screams and begs for them to stop killing him.
  • An Odd Place to Sleep: Ben inherited the NOVA truck from the first movie and drove it to NYC. It doubles as his toy factory and living space. Even after Fred leases a warehouse, Ben continues to nap in a hammock in the truck (which is now parked indoors).
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Fred's reaction when Johnny realizes he is in a city, and Fred again when Johnny finds a bookstore.
    • Oscar's face right before Johnny runs his car off the road, somersaulting it into a parked van.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: When Sandy tries to make a lucrative deal to buy toys from Ben, Frank (who is just introducing himself to Ben) quickly cuts himself into the deal and talks up the price before Ben can figure out what's going on. On the other hand, it's only because of Frank that Ben gets the start-up money (albeit by visiting a Loan Shark) and factory space necessary to start production.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: At the end of the movie, Johnny 5 tries to use his radio that hacks into things on a boat, but it doesn't work because the boat is ''not'' electronic.
  • Pig Latin: Used by the villains to fool Johnny — the one language he doesn't know how to translate. He's managed to work it out by the second time they try this trick on him.
    Johnny 5: Ew-scray ou-yay, ozo-bay.
  • Playing Cyrano: Number 5 the sentient robot, who has scanned through a library's worth of novels, suggests being The Cyrano for his nerdy scientist friend Ben. During Ben's date with Sandy, Number 5 hacks into an electronic billboard's system and flashes the lines Ben is supposed to say to her. The hacking goes wrong, resulting in Ben reading out nonsense (including some vulgar insults in Spanish - which unfortunately Sandy understands), but he turns a potentially embarrassing situation around by admitting the ruse to Sandy, who thinks it's sweet that he would go to such effort for her.
  • Re-Cut: When the movie plays on television, it cuts a lot of scenes for time. Many of the cut scenes are the ones where Johnny wanders around New York observing things for himself, including a scene where he trashes a bookstore. This is jarring because he refers to visiting a bookstore at least twice in later scenes.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • When Oscar's goons first attack him in the warehouse:
      Johnny Five: (catches crowbar midswing) Baaad humans!''
    • Later when prepping for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
      Johnny Five: Oh sure, kidnap the humans, destroy the machine! (fixes punk-like accessories to his body) Let's party.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A relatively-nonviolent one being a good summation of the climax of the film, with Johnny Five hunting down Oscar.
  • Robo Cam: We get a glimpse of Johnny's perspective. He sees everything the same way that a human would... except he can see invisible tire tracks? This happens only once.
  • Run for the Border: Oscar and his cronies devise a clever plot to smuggle the jewels into South America. Each one is hidden inside a cheap, plastic toy dinosaur; "Our gift to the Brazilian National Orphanage."
  • Shell Game: Johnny Five learns it from a street performer.
  • Stealth Pun: Probably unintentional, but Johnny Five, the self-aware robot who insists he's alive, embraces the late Eighties street gang aesthetic when he begins his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. He uses bits from the Radio Shack Fred fixed him up in to fashion a mohawk, spikes, chains, and other electronic accoutrements that serve no purpose but to make him look edgy and cool. In otherwords, he becomes a Cyberpunk.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: Johnny after getting mutilated by Oscar's mooks.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Johnny heatedly goes after Oscar, ignoring the fatal gash in his battery. He doesn't bleed to death, but he cuts it pretty close.
    Fred: Come on now, man, these are serious guys! You're not in top form a-and your back-up battery's used up!?
    Johnny: Derf, a life-form's gotta do what a life-form's gotta do. Stand aside.
  • Super-Strength: It's not overtly shown in the first film, as Johnny 5 rarely ever uses his physical strength, but the sequel shows he's far stronger than a human and capable of benchpressing a car and easily overpowering multiple humans at once. Makes sense as he and the S.A.I.N.T.s were originally designed to carry 25 megaton nuclear bombs, which weigh more than a large van or pickup truck.
  • Symbolic Blood: As Oscar's henchmen attempt to destroy Johnny 5, either battery acid or hydraulic fluid splashes on one of the goons.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Not evil of course, but Johnny 5 spends a large part of the movie trying to be human. After Oscar's henchmen smash him up and leave him for dead, Johnny finally decides he's had enough of that fruitless project because, if humans are going to mistreat him that badly, he doesn't need to be human.
    Johnny: Am not human, but am a life form!
  • Trail of Blood: While it's not technically blood, near the end of the film, Johnny 5 suffers damage to his battery before going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, forcing the rest of the protagonists to follow the trail of battery acid and help him.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Subverted. After escaping from an attempt to sell him and landing in an open-air modern art gallery, Johnny 5 is mistaken for an exhibit by a high-class couple apparently well-versed in this trope. The subversion comes when they dismiss him as a bad and ugly attempt at "True Art", spending not even 5 minutes studying him before moving on to something more appealing.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Johnny. Twice. In the beginning he steals just about a dozen car radios after being deceived by a gang to believe that he was helping them do their jobs as the "Department of Car Stereo Repair"; and later when Oscar tricks him into digging into the bank vault, thinking it was to create a safe place for Ben. Don't worry, he fixes it.
  • Wham Shot: There's the maiming scene: Johnny has gotten the drop on Oscar, popping down from a tree to grab him. Oscar's goons show up and (with prompting in pig latin from Oscar) circle around Johnny... and the one wielding a crowbar chops into Johnny's back, causing an explosion of electrical sparks as he's dislodged from the tree. And it doesn't end there.
  • You Can Barely Stand: Discussed in the movie after Five decides he's repaired enough to get revenge.
    Fred: Wait a minute J5, waddaya think you're gonna do?
    Fred: Come on now man, these are serious guys! You're not in top form, your backup battery's used up...!
    Five: I'm okay-kay. Just a few billion-billion bugs bugging the works out-in-out-in. Perfectly functionality. Functionality!

    Fred: Yeah, sure! Listen to yourself, you can't even talk straight!
    Five (picking Fred up by the collar):
    derF, a lifeform's gotta do what a lifeform's gotta do. Stand aside.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Happens to Johnny Five once he's gotten Oscar into the vault.
  • Your Mom; Invoked by Five like in the first film, only now with a Bilingual Bonus thrown in:
    Johnny Five: "Tu mama hace el amor con mi perro." Your mother makes love with my dog.