Short Circuit 2 ***

Marking an abrupt tonal shift in the adventures of sentient robot Johnny 5, this sequel pitches him into the bowels of an unnamed city where is talents are exploited by ruthless diamond thieves. Ally Sheedy contributes a phone message and Steve Guttenberg doesn’t appear at all; instead the focus is on Ben (Fisher Stevens) who partners up with Spinal Tap’s Michael McKean to mass-produce a range of Johnny 5 toys. But their warehouse space is also inhabited by crooks, who plan to use Johnny for a heist. Short Circuit 2 doesn’t have the same gravity as the first film, but it’s a brisk family entertainment, and engineers a beguilingly odd, off-kilter pathos as Johnny is bumped and bruised by city life before emerging victorious with a Tarzan yell; his ability to consume and regurgitate pop-culture ephemera makes Johnny 5 a somewhat prescient figure in a pre-internet world.


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