80s, 90s, Characters, Movies — December 10, 2014 4:47 pm

The Johnny 5 Movie You Don’t Know About

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In 1988, TriStar Pictures released Short Circuit 2 starring everyone’s third favorite movie robot Johnny 5.  This was one of those rare sequels in which most critics agreed was better than the original film.  Critics Siskel and Ebert, who didn’t particularly like the original, both agreed they cared about the fate of the robot hero by the end of the movie.

Siskel and Ebert saw eye to eye on the fun aspects of Short Circuit 2.

If it’s been 26 years since you’ve seen it, let me refresh your memory.  After a stunning display of patriotism and acts of kindness, Johnny 5 is granted U.S. citizenship by the end of the film by a judge who proclaims him the first robotic member of society.  It’s basically the same ending as The Cat from Outer Space (1978), but it’s worth it just to see a gold-plated Johnny 5 jump into the air.

“I feel… alive!!!”

Fast forward two years after the movie’s release.  By this point, there is surprisingly no official Johnny 5 toy, no animated series, no kids meal tie-in, nothing.  Johnny 5 just seemed to disappear after a critically acclaimed sequel.  So, what became of the first robotic citizen?  The answer to that question leads straight to the California Department of Justice.

In 1990, the Office of the Attorney General released a 25 minute video about victims of car theft.  Titled “Hot Cars, Cold Facts”, the short film takes viewers through the process of what happens to a car once it’s stolen.  The video needed a hook, though; someone everybody knew!  They could’ve called upon Wilford Brimley, Zelda Rubinstein, or even Gallagher for the starring role, but instead they brought back to life one more time Mr. Johnny 5.

Johnny 5 is alive… and also an unfortunate victim of car theft?

Fans of the feature films shouldn’t be too disappointed, as it surprisingly follows story canon and immediately picks up from the end of Short Circuit 2.  Johnny 5 gets citizenship and immediately buys a home in the suburbs, likely on an extreme loan that would later crash the housing industry.  One must wonder why he was in such a hurry to race to the suburbs.  Perhaps, he simply grew tired of the country and big city lifestyles he lived in the movies.  His next order of business is buying a tricked out truck, with the seat removed and an “ALIVE” vanity plate.  Life only goes downhill for Mr. 5 from there, unfortunately.

You thought I was kidding about the trick truck.

Johnny’s truck gets stolen and he learns the cold facts about what it takes to recover a vehicle after it becomes hot property.  His adventure takes him through the justice system for the first time, as he teams up with a neighbor who was also ripped off.  He practically shorts a circuit once he discovers his vehicle has been dissembled, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise.  Don’t worry, Johnny 5 learns his lesson the hard way and makes sure the thieves are caught next time they come around causing trouble.

While the nature of the video kept it in a very limited market, this is one that shouldn’t be lost to time.  If you ever wanted to see Johnny 5 wear a hat and mow the lawn, this is the car theft facts video for you!  The budget is low, but familiar elements are there.  The synth music , the humor, and the robot’s thesaurus-like personality all fall back on traits established in the movies.  Not to mention, Ally Sheedy didn’t come back for this sequel, either.  For that matter, neither did Steve Guttenberg, Fisher Stevens, or voice actor Tim Blaney.

And the hat.

In the end, it’s the closest we may ever see to a third film and a fun glimpse into the life Johnny 5 led after gaining citizenship status… with the added benefit of learning some practical preventative car safety tips along the way.

Watch “Hot Cars, Cold Facts” below!

Part One:

Part Two:

PopRewind.com: We’ll take you back!

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