Energised by a freak power overload, a robot called No. 5 springs to life in NOVA Laboratories (a shady research firm which boasts of creating five new military robots capable of blowing Moscow to smithereens), takes on hilarious human characteristics and promptly goes AWOL.
But the military regard him as a malfunctioning menace and the race is on to save the unit before it is destroyed.
As Steve Guttenberg’s goofy inventor tries to locate his missing model, the cute cyborg befriends vegetarian hippie animal lover Stephanie (Ally Sheedy) and has a series of misadventures.
No. 5 repeatedly asks Stephanie for ‘input’, which it is given in the form of encyclopaedias, novels and TV shows. Subsequently, the robot develops a profound love for animals, humans and even Saturday Night Fever dance moves.
By the end of the film, No. 5 develops consciousness and decides it would like to be called Johnny 5.
John Badham directs with the lightest of touches, and funny moments include the runaway robot’s mimicry of John Wayne, the Three Stooges and John Travolta.
Not so funny is No. 5’s incessant whine of “Stephanie”, which may force grown-ups to leave the room.
G W Bailey