In Short Circuit, a robot that looks as if it was assembled for a middle school science show gains sentience after being struck by lightning. The robot dons the name Johnny 5, escapes a military base, and finds itself at a caregiver’s house where it begins learning about what it means to be alive. Sounds cute on paper, but watching it today will make you worry about how naive ’80s audiences were.
The creators of the film had no idea how computer memory worked. They operated under the assumption that once a computer gets struck by lightning, your hardware gets upgraded to human memory levels. Plus, the robot looks like it was stolen from the set of E.T. and stripped of its adorable husk. Our memory banks recall the animatronic ramblings of Johnny 5 as humorous, but now, they’re just plain annoying.
On top of all that, imagine the outrage today if an Indian scientist was played by white guy from Chicago. Fisher Stevens went to great lengths to immerse himself in the culture and be as accurate as possible, but it’s highly unlikely that effort would merit a pass today.