Short Circuit 2

Short Circuit 2 is a 1988 American comic science fiction film, the sequel to the 1986 film Short Circuit. It was directed by Kenneth Johnson and starred Fisher Stevens as Ben Jahveri, Michael McKean as Fred Ritter, Cynthia Gibb as Sandy Banatoni, and Tim Blaney as the voice of Johnny 5 (the main character – a friendly, naive, self-aware robot). Brown face makeup was used to make the white actor Fisher Stevens appear Indian.

Short Circuit 2
Short circuit two ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byKenneth Johnson
Produced byDavid Foster
Gary Foster
Lawrence Turman
Written byBrent Maddock
S.S. Wilson
Music byCharles Fox
CinematographyJohn McPherson
Edited byConrad Buff IV
The Turman-Foster Company
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date
  • July 6, 1988 (1988-07-06)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$21.6 million (domestic)[2]


After Nova Robotics goes bankrupt due to the destruction of one of their robot prototypes by Captain Skroeder, one of their programmers, Benjamin Jahveri (previously known as Jabituya) starts up his own business, "Titanic Toy Corporation", that specializes in making sophisticated toy robots that he makes by hand from the back of his truck. For two days, Ben has been in a big city implied to be New York City peddling his toy robots on the street corners. One robot wanders away from his stand and makes its way into the office of Sandy Banatoni, an assistant buyer for Simpsons' toy department. Sandy tracks Ben down and orders 1,000 of his toys. Overhearing this offer is con artist Fred Ritter, who smooth-talks his way into brokering the transaction between Ben & Sandy, becoming Ben's business partner in the deal, and later acquires the funding Ben needs from a loan shark.

Ben and Fred move into a derelict warehouse which is the base of operations for thieves who are tunneling into a bank vault across the street to steal a set of jewels known as the Vanderveer Collection. The thieves (Saunders and Jones) attack Ben and Fred and destroy their equipment, preventing them from completing Sandy's order. However, Ben's friends Stephanie Speck and Newton Crosby have sent Johnny 5, a human-sized sentient robot whom Ben helped to create. When Saunders and Jones return, Johnny fends them off, then sets up self-defense mechanisms should they try to break in. Johnny sets to work mass-producing the toys to meet Sandy's deadline but later leaves to explore the city. He runs afoul of many people, who are rude and unfriendly. However, he befriends one man, Oscar Baldwin, who works at the bank across the street from Ben and Fred's warehouse.

Fred, having learned that Johnny is worth $11,002,076.17, tries to sell the robot. Discovering this, Johnny escapes into the city, is taken into police custody, and is placed in the stolen goods warehouse, where he is claimed by Ben. Johnny uses his robotic abilities to help Ben court Sandy.

With time running out before the Vanderveer Collection is moved from the bank, Saunders and Jones lock Ben and Fred in the freezer of Doo Wah's Chinese restaurant and Deli. It is revealed that Oscar is the mastermind of the heist, and he tricks Johnny into finishing the tunnel leading to the vault. Ben and Fred get Sandy to save them, using polyphonic renditions of songs that Ben learned on his date with her as clues to their location. Having discovered the Vanderveer Collection, Johnny deduces Oscar's true intentions but is attacked by Saunders and Jones and is severely damaged. Fred attempts to repair him by breaking into a Radio Shack and following Johnny's guidance. Johnny then locates Oscar and traps his accomplices. However, Oscar flees and steals a boat. Johnny uses a dockside crane and swings Tarzan-style to capture Oscar, who is later apprehended by the police. After Johnny's main power supply runs dry, Ben keeps him alive with a defibrillator.

Following these events, Johnny is fully repaired and becomes a celebrity, while Sandy, Ben, and Fred start a new company with Johnny as its mascot. He and Ben later take the Oath of Allegiance to become United States citizens. After the ceremony, when questioned by reporters about his thoughts on becoming the country's first robotic citizen, a gold-plated Johnny leaps into the air and exclaims, "I feel alive!"



Principal photography of the film took place between September 13, 1987-December 1987 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada[1] Despite the film taking place in what's implied to be New York City, much of the shots throughout the film featured prominent downtown Toronto landmarks.[3][4] Five robots were used for filming the "Johnny 5" character. Reported complications arose with their hydraulic and electrical systems due to rainy and cold weather during production.[1] The film's budget was reportedly $15 million.[1]

The movie was originally titled Short Circuit 2: More Input, as seen on much of the promotional material.[5]


Critical responseEdit

The film received mixed reviews at the time of release. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 38% based on reviews from 13 critics, with an average rating of 4.1/10.[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave it a grade A-.[7]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave it a negative review. He wrote "For anyone over the age of 6, the film is as much fun as wearing wet sneakers."[8] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post gave a mixed review (6/10) with qualifiers saying "Short Circuit 2" is unabashedly mawkish and sophomoric, and the actors support the technology. But if you're a kid, or an adult with an Erector Set, you might just enjoy this summer-weight caper.[9] Most of the positive reviews in fact were nice but accepting of the film's obvious flaws. Variety added "Mild and meek, Short Circuit 2 has an uncomplicated sweetness as a successful followup to the original robot kiddie comedy."[10]

Siskel & Ebert, having disliked the first film, gave the film "two thumbs up" and called the film "even better than the original."[11] In a 1988 Los Angeles Times article, the review noted that "Wilson and Maddock have improved considerably here....Their construction is more deft, their dialogue is better, and they make Johnny 5 come more alive..."[12]

Box officeEdit

At the box office, Short Circuit 2 disappointed, landing in 7th place on its first weekend making only $3,843,067. It finished with $21,630,088, down almost half from what the first Short Circuit film made. It ranked 45th at the U.S. box office for 1988.[13]


The film was nominated at Saturn Awards in the categories Best Science Fiction Film and Best Special Effects (Eric Allard, Jeff Jarvis).

Home mediaEdit

Short Circuit 2 was released on August 7, 2001 and re-released on DVD on April 24, 2007,[11] which included a "making-of featurette" on actor Fisher Stevens. In 2010, the film was released once again with alternative cover art. A Blu-ray disc of the film was released in April 2011, though no extras were included.


Hot Cars, Cold Facts, made in 1990, is a short educational film featuring the Johnny 5 character, voiced by Russell Turner. It also starred Gina Revarra as Lisa, John Hugh as Officer Dave and Donald Bishop as Howard. The film takes place after Short Circuit 2.


  1. ^ a b c d "AFI|Catalog".
  2. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  3. ^ "Reel Toronto: Short Circuit 2". Torontoist. March 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988) - IMDb" – via
  5. ^ Short Circuit 2 (1988), retrieved 2020-02-11
  6. ^ Short Circuit 2 at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (1988). "Review/Film; More Adventures of a Robot". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  9. ^ Kempley, Rita (6 July 1988). "Short Circuit 2". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  10. ^ Variety Staff (31 December 1987). "Short Circuit 2". Variety. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Short Circuit 2 - DVD". Retrieved 2010-02-06.
  12. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1988-07-06). "MOVIE REVIEW : Number Five Comes Alive in 'Circuit 2'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
  13. ^ "Short Circuit 2 (1988) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.

External linksEdit