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March 8, 2012

Midnight Movie of the Week #114 - Cherry 2000

There are only about a bakers dozen things - at most - that are as good looking as Melanie Griffith was in the mid 1980s.  Enter Cherry 2000, a sci-fi road picture that's kind of post-apocalyptic and kind of an old-school western.  Griffith stars as a "tracker" who's enlisted to help a dude who failed to learn one of the golden rules of life: Don't have sex with a robot while rolling around in bubbly and soapy water.
Surprisingly, that dude - a recycling plant worker named Sam who is played by David Andrews - survives the soapy death screw, but it's his robotic companion, the Cherry 2000 of the title - that is left with a few short circuits.  Sam seems to be a boring guy who's resigned to a boring life - he doesn't even look excited when he's driving his three-wheeled car! - but he really loves that blonde robot that looks kind of like one of the other great beauties of the planet, Barbara Crampton.  (Cherry is actually played by Pamela Gidley, but if Sam can pretend a robot's a woman than I can pretend that that woman might be Barbara Crampton.  It's only fair.)
Sam's devastated by his loss, and the things his friends tell him to do to take his mind off Cherry - like going to a weird bar called the Glu Glu Club where everyone looks like Lady Gaga and Laurence Fishburne shows up as a lawyer who brokers hooker contracts - so he turns to illegal methods to retrieve her.  The result is his arrangement with Griffith's E. Johnson and a journey across an arid frontier that's full of colorful characters.  The goal is to find a "replacement model", because the year is 2017 and Cherry is from 2000 - which makes his quest akin to that of someone in today's culture who wants to replace their Joan Osborne cassette from 1995.  And the good screenwriters of 1987 weren't up to speed on this internet thing yet (Amazon probably has Cherrys for sale right now!), which means cross country journey is the logical path for Sam.
You'll never find the answer at a place where everyone looks like Gaga....
.....or Morpheus when he was going through his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air phase.
As the trip goes on, the movie's primary question becomes obvious.  That question, in too many words, is: "Why the heck is this boring guy looking for a RoboCrampton when there's a real-life, spunky, redheaded, Melanie Griffith who knows how to work a rocket launcher and also wants in his boring pants?"  I suppose it's the kind of question that could effectively kill the film - 99.9937% of what's interesting in the scenes between E. Johnson and Sam comes from Griffith's presence as E. Johnson - and I must admit that this silly little film loses a lot of points in areas that don't include the female star.
Although a cameo by these two studs in the background is always welcome!
Griffith isn't the only fun part of director Steve de Jarnatt's film, however.  The cast also includes a fun turn by Tim Thomerson as the psychotic tracker killer Lester, which adds to the charm of the second half of the film.  The film also looks pretty good, and the settings created are similar to some of the bizarre things you'd expect from filmmakers like Terry Gilliam.  There's a bizarre style at work here that fits right into the cult movie world - somewhere between the crazy Tank Girl film and that Hannibal from The A-Team with a RV/Tank flick Damnation Alley - and ensures that Cherry 2000 will live on for the neon perspective on the future that it brought to the table.
But make no mistake, the reason I'm remembering and honoring this movie tonight is Griffith's performance, which set a standard for sci-fi heroines in my head.  I was digging into Mass Effect 3 this week - just like a good nerd should - and it suddenly hit me that the propensity for creating short haired redheaded bad sistas in video games that had transferred to my female Shepard - just might trace back to Griffith's character in this film. (If you understand what I'm saying here - HIGH FIVE!)  She eats up the scenery - which is pretty good looking in its own right - and makes up for her co-star throughout the length of the cheesy (but not quite cheesy enough to be great in a Flash Gordon/Buck Rodgers kind of way) futuristic journey.
I think I've used this screenshot before...but it never gets old. <3
Cherry 2000 is a movie that leaves a lot to be desired, but it's enough fun to keep me smiling.  Any movie with this much '80s goodness packed into an apocal-western formula is worth my time, especially when the plot is basically an existential debate about whether a dude should choose this:
or THIS:
Maybe, like me, you'll spend most of the movie wondering why that's even a choice.  Besides, would a hot human tracker be so opposed to a three-way if the third party is a robot?  It's this kind of (potentially inappropriate) question that only adds to the silly appeal of Cherry 2000.  And I'm all for silly appeal.

1 comment:

Enbrethiliel said...


I loved this review, The Mike! Cherry 2000 is a movie I haven't seen yet, but I'm digging its premise (even as I get your hint that the execution isn't so great). Besides, I have a soft spot for 80s dystopian settings. =P