For kids like me who worn born or raised in the 1980s, “Number 5 is ALIVE!” ranks as one of the greatest movie lines of all time. It’s uttered in reference to Johnny 5, the utterly adorable, input-seeking robot who is brought to life by a lightning strike in 1986’s Short Circuit. And he may be coming back to life on the big screen again, via a “reimagining” in the works at Dimension Films.
The Short Circuit remake has been kicked around for some time now, without much discernible forward motion. The project was announced almost six years ago, dropped, then picked back up by Dimension Films in 2008. Since then, the only real progress that has been made was the hiring of Tim Hill (who directed such classics as Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties and Alvin and the Chipmunks in the creepy CGI-live action genre) last year. Dimension does seem to be getting more serious about the project, though, since it has announced that Matt Lieberman has been hired to write the screenplay. Lieberman’s only writing credit on IMDB is Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief and Dimension says he is “is a recent alumni of the Disney writers program”, so it stands to reason that he’ll work well with Hill. Whether or not that is a good thing for Short Circuit remains to be seen. And there’s still the chance that, despite having a writer attached, the remake will still take years to see the light of day (a la, the long-delayed Ghostbusters follow-up).
I love Short Circuit but, if my teenage sister’s apathetic reaction to the film was any indication, it hasn’t exactly aged well. Our gut reactions as fans of the original may be to decry any attempt to remake or “reimagine” but, really, who’s to say that it won’t benefit from a bit of touching up? As long as they don’t try to bring Johnny 5 back to life via computer animation, anyway.