Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cherry 2000 (1987)

Title: Cherry 2000 (1987)

Director: Steve De Jarnatt

Cast: Melanie Griffith, David Andrews, Pamela Gidley, Laurence Fishburne, Brion James, Tim Thomerson, Robert Z’Dar


Cherry 2000 is one of those movies that once completed; had the head honchos over at Orion Pictures  scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to sell the picture. A Romantic post apocalyptic movie? Do they sell it to the female demographic because its lead is an actress and it has romantic elements attached to it? Or do they sell it to the male audience, because of its post-apocalyptic/action/adventure elements? Is it a comedy or an action film, or what? This ambiguity held the film back, not knowing who to sell the movie to always gives studio heads cold feet. This insecurity from part of the studio is what killed the movie. Even though it was filmed in 1985, it ended up being released in theaters in 1987! And that was only in foreign countries! It made its way to American audiences through home video market in 1988 which is when I first got a glimpse of it and where it acquired its current cult status. It wasn’t even deemed worthy of a theatrical release in the United States; as a result, the film was a huge flop. I guess it was just too off beat for some people.  But was it? Read on my friends!

The perfect couple?

Cherry 2000 is all about a guy named Sam Treadwell, a guy who’s extremely happy because he has this smoking hot blonde bomb shell waiting for him at home. She looks beautiful, she has dinner ready for him (his favorite dish: Cheese Burgers and French Fries!) and she has nothing but good things to say to Sam. She’s also willing to have sex on the kitchen floor at the tip of a hat! No problemo! Oh wait, I failed to mention that this magical lady is also a cyborg! A robotic model called Cherry 2000! So one day, when Sam and Cherry are ‘doing it’ on the kitchen floor, they get so into each other that they don’t realize that the dishwasher is over flowing and the soapy water begins to pour all over the floor; they are so into each other that they don’t care. Problem is that Cherry is a cyborg, and the soapy water messes up her circuits! She ends up shorting out right there on the kitchen floor! What’s Sam to do now that he doesn’t have his ‘perfect woman’? Send a bounty hunter to find the same model that’s what! And there’s no better bounty hunter for the job than E. Johnson. The real problem is that this Cherry 2000 model is so old that one of the few remaining models can only be found in a post apocalyptic wasteland called ‘Zone 7’. Will E. Johnson and Sam find the new Cherry 2000 and make it out of Zone 7 alive? 

So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that this film is ‘off beat’, but not off beat enough to deserve the kick in the groin that it got from the studio, I mean, I’ve seen far stranger films that’s for sure. Still, I have to admit that a romantic/post-apocalyptic/comedy/action/adventure is quite the mash up of genres. Genre mixing is a risky move for any studio, but some times the illusion of novelty that these films offer works; for example Back to the Future III (1990) a film that mixed science fiction elements with a western, or Army of Darkness (1992) which was a mixture of horror and slapstick comedy with a good measure of adventure thrown in.  Since Cherry 2000 is a difficult film to categorize within a particular genre, well, it then becomes a hard sell because the studio doesn’t know on what channel or magazine they are going to spend their advertising money.  The thing about Hollywood is that they like a sure thing, and films like Cherry 2000 do not offer them that. Hollywood will rarely take a chance with films of this nature.

But this doesn’t make Cherry 2000 any less watchable, and films like this always find their audience one way or another. Monster Squad (1987) is an example I always use. Monster Squad was a mixed genre film. It mixed a kids movie, with monsters. Hollywood didn’t know who to sell it too, it was too scary for kids and too kiddie for adults. As a result, the film was a box office flop even though it was actually a good flick. Audiences found it anyway on home video, and so, Monster Squad’s is currently one of those beloved cult classics people can’t seem to get enough of. Melanie Griffith says that Cherry 2000 is her least favorite movie (must be all those shameless one liners she hurls through out the whole film) yet recognizes that it has a cult following. What is it that people find likable about Cherry 2000? It could be various things, but one of them has to be Melanie Griffith looking all sorts of hot, she’s sexy and tough all rolled up into one. She’s a one liner spewing loner with a heart of gold. She’s a kick ass driver, and has a cool looking red mustang with buttons and doo dads that make the car go faster. She fires freaking rocket launchers for god sakes! This is one tough chick, which equals sexy on many a fan boys book. E. Johnson is the quintessential ‘bad girl’. Then there’s of course her car, which I should have included in my 40 Memorable Movie Cars article I wrote a while back. The car is all sorts of awesome and it of course steals the show in some sequences, the most memorable one of course is the one where E. Johnson shoots her guns while hanging from her red mustang, which is being dangled over the Hoover Dam. Which by the way I have to commend, that was a real stunt. Not CGI, not miniatures…that’s a real car and a real stunt person hanging from that car! The sequence is the most spectacular in the whole film.

Thematically speaking, Cherry 2000 speaks about, amongst other things, classism. Sam and E. Johnson encounter a colony of survivors who live on top of a mountain called “Sky Ranch”. They have all the commodities, have all the parties, all the food, but it you are not like them, they’ll probably end up killing you. The film also addresses women’s rights; the idea that women are not robots, or sex slaves or merely there to have your meal ready when you get home. The film speaks about women’s right to an opinion, to express themselves, to have careers, to have feelings that need to be taken into consideration.  Basically, the film speaks rather bluntly about how women aren’t in this world to serve men as slaves. They have their own lives to live and their own choices to make; and E. Johnson is representative of that. She’s the anti-thesis of what some men expect of a woman. Sam is the typical guy who thinks all he wants is this pretty little house wife who looks beautiful all day long and will have his dinner ready when he gets back. E. Johnson is the independent girl who knows how to look out for herself, she’s opinionated, driven and has time for love and sweetness at the same time. In the end, this is a film that speaks about accepting each other the way we are, warts and all. Nobody is perfect, so why should we expect perfection from others? 

Ultimately, this isn’t the best film ever made. It has action and likable characters, but sometimes runs into dull areas. It’s a mish-mash of genres, but if you’re ready for that well, you should have no problem. Also, the film is peppered with cameos from genre favorites like a very young Lawrence Fishburne playing a lawyer in a dance club called ‘The Glu Glu Glub’. We also get to see Brion James and even the big jawed dude Robert D’Zar, better known for his contributions to Maniac Cop (1988). The one who will probably get the most recognition from hardcore genre veterans is Tim Thomerson as Lester, the leader of the crazy colonists. Some of you genre loving fans out there might recognize him from many Full Moon productions like Dollman (1991) and Trancers (1985) where he played the time traveling dude, Jack Death. Many will probably see a bit of  Mad Max in Cherry 2000 because of its post apocalyptic roots, but in all honesty, it reminded me more of Susan Seidelman’s Making Mr. Right (1987) only in reverse. On that one the nature of relationships is also explored by using cyborgs as the main thrust for the film, only on that one it was a male cyborg played by John Malkovich. This of course proves once again that one of the best film genres to explore the realities and complexities of humanity is science fiction.  

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5


Manuel Marrero said...

Boring movie. Melanie was kinda hot in this one tho.

Franco Macabro said...

Kinda? She was a full blown bomb shell is what she was!

Jack Thursby said...

Heard people talk about this movie but never got around to watching. Now that I know it's got the great Tim Thomerson in it I'll make more of an effort.


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