Johnny 5 is alive!
The loveable robot who co-starred with Steve Guttenberg in two Short Circuit films back in the ‘80s is about to make his grand return to the big screen – as potential franchise for Dimension films.
A press release sent out yesterday revealed the studio has hired screenwriter Matt Lieberman, an NYU graduate who’s worked on a slew of unproduced projects and penned a draft of a Dr. Doolittle sequel. Lieberman will work closely with Alvin and the Chipmunks director Tim Hill to bring the project to fruition.
While plot details aren’t being discussed, the Internet is currently up in arms about the decision to turn Short Circuit into a “family friendly” franchise. Bob Weinstein has come out and stated:
“Dimension has had great success with the Spy Kids family series which grossed over $500 million worldwide. We are looking for Short Circuit to be our next family franchise and are excited to be working with Matt Lieberman and Tim Hill, who has had great International success with Hop and Alvin and the Chipmunks.”
Maybe our memories are a little hazy, but Short Circuit was already family-friendly in its original incarnation. Johnny 5 wasn’t exactly tossing out F-bombs and Steve Guttenberg toned down his Police Academy shenanigans for the films. With that in mind, it seems funny that movie geeks would be upset about Weinstein stating it would be family-friendly in the first place. Of course, it also seems funny that Weinstein himself would make that distinction since it would appear to be business as usual. If they intended to let Tarantino turn Short Circuit into an R-rated action movie, that would be worthy of an announcement.
We suspect the real issue here is the comparison to Spy Kids and how the idea of family-friendly films has shifted over the years since the original Short Circuit debuted. Spy Kids – while certainly something the entire family can watch – tends to aim at appeasing kids and leaving the adults to just live vicariously through their children. Short Circuit never worked that way – it featured characters and jokes that were safe for the family as a whole, and that catered to both the kids in the audiences and the adults. It would be a shame to see the series lose that crossover appeal and wind up like the dreadful Alvin and the Chipmunks films.
Whatever happens, we’re hoping that Dimension gets Tim Blaney back to do the voice for Johnny 5. We’re unwilling to accept anyone else handling that job, so that could be a dealbreaker for this film right off the bat. We also wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Guttenberg and Fisher Stevens turn up in a new Short Circuit – but we’d all probably be better off without a return of El Debarge’s Who’s Johnny? theme song, which is now running through our heads.
What do you guys think? Any interest in seeing more Short Circuit or has Johnny 5 gone the way of the VCR? Share your thoughts in the comment section.