S. S. Wilson Speculates on Short Circuit Remake

The creator of the classic 80’s robot film in which ‘Johnny Five is alive’ talks about possibilities for modernizing Short Circuit.

In the age of remakes, any successful property is on the table to be updated for contemporary viewers. As long as it appeals to nerd culture nostalgia, it’s fair game. But with an abundance of poorly done examples such as Jem and the Holograms, increasingly discerning audiences want to make sure their beloved entertainment is done right. 

So in speculating on a remake of the classic 80’s blockbuster, Short Circuit, what better source than S. S. Wilson himself, the writer of the screenplay?

So what would a movie about a military robot that comes to life look like these days? First of all, Wilson insists, “The audience needs to know first off that these things are deadly… Maybe this is an anti-terrorist device.” Johnny Five was cute, but he still could blow things up.

In a remake, Wilson speculates, “The S.A.I.N.T. robots, whatever they’re renamed, would go into some sort of setting like a third world village… running up and down stairs and shooting around corners and so forth rather than just blowing things up in big balls of flame. Maybe they’re targeting things…” He pauses, adding, “I think it’s a family film still, so you don’t want to open with a bunch of people getting blown up.”

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What about the politically incorrect character of Ben Jabituya, memorably played by Fisher Stevens affecting a very stereotypical Indian accent? “We had that very discussion in the remake discussions that we had,” admits Wilson. “And ultimately, we lobbied for awhile to just say, ‘Well, why not? Just do it. Even if you use a real Indian actor, just do it. Just have Ben in there.’” Ultimately, Wilson’s colleagues decided, “We don’t want to go there,” but the Ben character is quite a significant part of the success of the film.

“One of the great ironies of our careers,” Wilson says, “[is that] we did not write the Ben character that way. He was written as an ordinary engineer, and somewhere along the line [director, John Badham] and Fisher came up with turning him into the wacky Indian character.”

The truth of the matter, though, is that, although there have been talks to do a remake of Short Circuit, for now it’s simply idle speculation. Even Wilson remembers not being very involved in production on the original. “This is where we learned our big lesson that as writers, you don’t go to the set. You go off and write something else. You don’t bother the people who are making your movie.”

So who wants to give it a try? To hear a variety of pitches for a Short Circuit remake, listen to the full interview with S. S. Wilson on the Remake This Movie RIGHT! podcast on The Hollywood Outsider website.