Fitting In: Reflecting on Short Circuit 2

Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Short Circuit films.  I watched them all the time on VHS and loved seeing again and again the antics of Johnny 5.  And while I loved very much the original film that had the hilarity that is Steve Guttenberg and the charm of Ally Sheedy, I always related more to the second film Short Circuit 2.  I recently rewatched the film and it still holds up for me.

The second film centers around Johnny 5 and Ben Javari (played by Fisher Stevens).  They are the only two characters to return from the first film (though Sheedy’s character Stephanie Speck makes an audio cameo).  Ben also has a character change (in the first film he’s an American citizen but in this film he is trying to get his citizenship).  He’s now in New York City trying to make his way in the world after losing his job at NOVA.  He builds toy replicas of Johnny 5 which gets the attention of toy buyer Sandy Banatoni.  She loves them and wants a bunch for the department store to sell.  This brings Johnny 5 to NYC to help out his friend Ben.

Along with trying to help Ben (and Ben’s new ‘friend’ Fred Ritter), Johnny 5 is about his usual getting of “input”.  This of course leads to some interesting encounters in the city.  These encounters lead to Johnny 5 struggling to find out what it means to be accepted as alive by those around him.  This also mirrors Ben’s attempts to have Sandy see him as a person and not just a producer of robot toys.

Probably the scene that really reflects this for me the most is set up by the following: Johnny 5 is on his own after trying to be sold by Fred.  He spends time in a sculpture garden and is mistaken for art and called “repulsive”. He then grabs some clothes (trenchcoat and beanie hat) in order to fit in with He goes into a church looking for answers and gets run out by priest thinking someone is controlling him.  He then gets arrested for “trashing the book store” with the officers thinking someone is controlling him.  When he gets to the police station, he is sent down to stolen goods because jail is for “humans”.

The scene finds Johnny standing in the impound area chained to two poles.  He is reading one of the two books he got from the bookstore.  There is a kind of melancholic music playing as he’s slowly reading (the only time he ever reads slowly by the way).  Ben finds out that he’s there in the impound and goes to pick him up.  Ben rushes up to and asks Johnny to say something.  Johnny’s response is four words “Hubcaps, corn dogs, soul.”

Johnny 5 and Ben

After scolding the officers for chaining Johnny up like they did, Ben tells him it’s okay to break the chains which Johnny promptly does.  Ben asks Johnny why he’s dressed up that “ridiculous garb”, Johnny responds as he slowly rolls away “Attempt to look human, fit in, belong.  Unsuccessful.”  Ben is left standing there with Johnny’s beanie hat and two books.  The two books?  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.  Ben looks up from seeing the two books as Johnny is rolling to the door.

I could relate to how Johnny 5 felt.  No, I wasn’t a robot come to life.  But i understood what it felt like to want to fit in and belong.  Growing up, I wasn’t very popular.  I didn’t fit in with the cool crowd.  I grew up in one town and went to school in another.  I was the younger brother who was kinda nerdy.  I wanted to belong.  I wanted to feel like that I fit in but I didn’t.  So when I would watch this film, that scene always got to me, because I knew what that feeling was like.  To want to be seen, to want to be known, to want to belong.

Deep down that’s what we all want.  And that’s why even to this day, that scene still gets to me.  Because that pain is real.  That is something that we all struggle with all through our lives. God knows this.  He made each one of us to be in community with Him and with others.  We were never meant to be alone, in isolation.  Sin separates us from others and sin separates us from God.  But the good thing is Jesus restore those relationships paying the penalty for our sins.  We don’t have to feel in solitude or alone.  We belong to God if we are willing to repent and turn to Him.

Short Circuit 2 will always have a special place in my heart as a film.  Not just for the goofy lovable Ben Javari and wise cracking hero Johnny 5, but for the broken hearted Ben who longs to be known by Sandy and the lonely Johnny 5 who simply wants to belong and fit in.  In the end, Ben and Sandy are together and in love and Johnny 5 finds out he does belong and has people that do care for him.  May we find that place and those people (and hopefully it is found with God and with the church).

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The Hope of “Tomorrowland”

Tomorrowland-Poster

I went and saw the new Disney film Tomorrowland yesterday.  It was one of those summer movies that I was looking forward to seeing.  And at least for me, it did not disappoint.  It was fun, exciting and made me think.

I won’t have any spoilers but I will touch on something that I thought about as I was watching the film and then after I let the theater.  One major theme of the movie is hope.  Casey, one of the main characters in the film, seems to be driven by hope.  Hope for the future, hope for change.  However, reality seems far from hopeful.  It seems like the majority of people around Casey don’t have hope.

When Casey gets a glimpse of Tomorrowland, she wants to go there.  When she does get there, it is nothing like what she saw or was told about.  However, it is better than Earth as Tomorrowland is not bent on destruction.  The leader of Tomorrowland, Governor Nix, has basically shut himself off from the rest of the world and tells Casey & Frank Walker (who used to live in Tomorrowland years ago) that the reason people aren’t told about Tomorrowland is because they would bring their “savagery” here.

Deep down, we are all seeking hope.  We all want to hope in something.  We would love to find and live in a place like Tomorrowland.  The thing is, we can have something to place our hope.  Or to put it a better way, someone to place our hope.  Jesus is the one who we can put our hope for the future as well as right now in the present.  He can change us (if we let Him) and make us more like Him.

As followers of Jesus, we also have a place that is there waiting for us like Tomorrowland only much cooler and better in Heaven.  And we don’t have to worry about messing up Heaven by us being there because there will be no sin there.

That’s a hope that can change the world.  That’s a hope worth sharing.  That’s a hope I want others to know about.

A good film is one you can enjoy watching and make you think.  Tomorrowland is that kind of film.  I would recommend checking it out and I hope that you will think through those themes long after the credits are rolling.

Searching For Happiness

A couple of weeks ago I watched the film Hector and the Search for Happiness.  It’s a dramedy that stars Simon Pegg as a psychologist who is trying to figure out what it means to be happy.  He is not happy in his own life and has a dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend Clara.  So he decides to take a trip to figure out how and what people define as being happy.

hector-and-the-search-for-happiness

This trip leads him around the world.  He goes to such places as China, Tibet, Africa and Los Angeles.  He comes in contact with a variety of people including a businessman, a doctor, a drug dealer, a call girl, an old girlfriend & a professor who is studying the effects of happiness on the brain.  Along the way, he journals his thoughts.  He sees people trying to find happiness through a variety of ways but none of them are ever fully happy.  The end of the film sees him reconcile with his girlfriend Clara and he goes back to England & appreciate what he has.

We all can identify with Hector.  We all want to be “happy” and we all try and have things in our lives that we use to try and make us happy.  Whether it be relationships or money or job or medication, we seek to try and find happiness.  But happiness is predicated on circumstances.  When circumstances aren’t going well, we don’t have happiness.

However, something that is not predicated on circumstances is joy.  Joy is constant throughout.  That is what God offers to us.  He offers us something that is consistent, that does not change when circumstances change.  We can have that joy through a relationship with Him.  It’s that relationship that brings peace when our circumstances are tough.

We all search for happiness.  But instead of searching for happiness, let us search for joy.  And we can find joy in Jesus.

A Look at “Noah”

Today, the teaser trailer for the new film Noah came out.  The film stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson & Anthony Hopkins.  It is based on the Biblical story of Noah and the flood.  It is directed by Darren Aronofsky.

After having seen the trailer, I am curious to see the film.  It will be a good jumping off point for discussion with others about the differences between the film and Scripture.  It will be interested in to see how Aronofsky treated the text in his interpretation.  The only film that I have seen that he has directed is The Fountain.  That was an interesting film and prompted a lot of discussion during a “Film and Theology” night when I was in Seattle.

Here’s the trailer, the film is to be released next year: