E.T. goes mechanical is essentially what this inane comedy from director John Badham (WARGAMES, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER) is all about. Newton Crosby (Steve Guttenberg) is a robotics technician for a government contractor. At a special outdoor demonstration, the company's most sophisticated robots are put on display for army officials. An approaching thunderstorm ends the day's activities, but as it turns out, things are just beginning. A bolt of lightning brings one of the five robots to life, and "Number 5" goes off to discover the surrounding world. Newton's boss (G.W. Bailey) wants to destroy Number 5, but Newton, along with his assistant (Fisher Stevens), begins his own hunt. In the meantime, Number 5 has run into Stephanie (Ally Sheedy), who is convinced he's a space alien and sets out to teach him all about Earth. SHORT CIRCUIT is a carefully programmed film designed to evoke certain responses. The plot line is as simple as they come, and Badham's direction is as mechanical as his star. The human actors are secondary, for the real star of the show is Number 5. He's really pretty charming, though his unusual antics aren't enough to carry a feature-length motion picture. As bad is this film was, the 1988 sequel was even worse.