Cherry 2000 (1988)
Cherry 2000 (1988)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 38 min.

Release Date: February 5th, 1988 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Steve De Jarnatt Actors: Melanie Griffith, David Andrews, Pamela Gidley, Ben Johnson, Brion James, Michael C. Gwynne, Tim Thomerson, Robert Z’Dar

 


 

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lectronic components salesman Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) arrives home with flowers for his beautiful blonde girlfriend, Cherry (Pamela Gidley). After dinner, with suds overflowing from an ignored dishwasher, the couple begin rolling around and making out in a puddle of water and soap. But just as things heat up, “Cherry 2000” short-circuits, leaving Sam with a perfectly ruined android companion. Having suffered from a total internal meltdown, the advanced romance unit is reduced to nothing more than a miniature disc, which contains memories and personality elements.

“Why don’t you try some real women?” The year is 2017, but despite the technological headways, particularly in sex robots, Sam only wants a replacement Cherry 2000 model, which is old-fashioned but not steeped so overtly in sexual luridness. When his pals convince him to go to the Glu Glu Club, where more customary prostitution is available, Sam only grows more despondent, eventually returning home to watch videos of Cherry’s visual recordings. His only hope at replacing his lost love is to venture into the sketchy outskirts of Anaheim, where he’s to inquire about a tracker named Edith Johnson (Melanie Griffith), who has the skills and knowledge to penetrate the heavily-guarded Zone 7 to retrieve an equivalent make and model from the Robot Graveyard.

With uncommon prescience, the film predicts that one of the uses for state-of-the-art artificial intelligence is in highly realistic sex dolls, capable of complex human interactions. It’s a taboo, largely unexplored subject – especially in cinema and in the media – that is handled here with a dismissiveness toward potentially graphic and uncomfortable details. In many ways, the topic is approached with the sensibility necessary for such inventions to become commonplace; the notion that Sam can only effectively communicate with a store-bought woman further highlights issues of the future, when mankind grows more removed from intersocietal connections and more dependent on digital links. If all human contact can be replaced with idealistic, programmed perfection, why bother with the real thing?

The look is reminiscent of “The Terminator” and “Escape from New York” (or “Mad Max,” since the majority is set in the sparse desert), while the storyline wanders into the realm of action (or a buddy-cop picture), yet with an obvious slant toward romance. But Andrews is too annoying and unheroic to be an admirable leading man, while Griffith, with her remarkably silky voice, is never able to convince as a tough-as-nails mercenary; the delivery of her dialogue similarly lacks the forcefulness required to make her authentically rugged or formidable. When she softly whispers a line such as, “Next time you wander off like that, I’m gonna leave you for the buzzards,” it’s almost comical, since the threat contains not an ounce of severity. And when she hefts a bazooka, it’s awkward and devoid of the tension that an explosive shootout ought to have.

A few impressive stunts pop up, but the staging is poor enough that they’re hardly riveting. And Basil Poledouris’ score betrays notes of the superior “Robocop” theme from less than a year before (though “Cherry 2000” was actually filmed and then shelved prior to “Robocop’s” release). Plus, the modest sci-fi elements become weirder rather than visionary, chiefly when Sam finds himself in the primitive, cult-like community of Sky Ranch, run by homicidal maniac Les (Tim Thomerson) and his enormously broad-chinned henchman Chet (Robert Z’Dar). Subsequent action scenes continue to fizzle, comic relief moments inspire zero laughs, and Andrews and Griffith exhibit no chemistry; everything is so ineffective, the very existence of this completed film is something of a mystery. Notable, however, are the sets in the sand-covered remnants of Las Vegas, which are curiously similar to designs seen in “Blade Runner 2049,” which was coincidentally released in 2017.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10