❉ A wild, outlandish, audacious explosion of ideas, genres, tones and possibilities.
Cherry 2000 is a fantastic cinematic explosion of ideas, genres, tones, and possibilities. In other words – it’s a Steve De Jarnatt picture, ahead of its time during initial release, and so ready for rediscovery by modern audiences it’s almost a joke. Feeling like an acid-tinged riff on the post-apocalyptic action narrative with shades of Mad Max all throughout, I can’t help but feel that this film set the stage for properties like Demolition Man and Tank Girl, and possibly even something like The Fifth Element and Ex-Machina.
It’s wild, it’s outlandish, it’s audacious, and there’s not much else I can think of that even remotely comes close to the fantasia that this off the wall effort represents and creates. In the future, 2017 to be exact(!), Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) is a recycling plant manager. He goes home every night to his beautiful wife, played by the beyond sexy Pamela Gidley, who just so happens to be a lifelike robot with the titular name of Cherry 2000. She’s ready for her man at any point, always smiling, always there to pleasure and reassure.
But when she short-circuits, Sam isn’t interested in downgrading with a newer, less smoking hot robot-wife. After removing her personality disc, he hires a lawless tracker named E. Johnson, played with charm and early hotness by a lithe Melanie Griffith, in an effort to track down a legitimate Cherry 2000 replacement model. This film is both tongue in cheek and totally dead serious, sometimes within the same scene, with a tone that goes back and forth between pointed social commentary and off-the-wall-genre-craziness.
The action scenes are robust, the explosions were done for real, and some of the stunts simply defy logic. There’s a TON of RPG-assisted mayhem during the final act that needs to be seen to be believed, and the frequent bouts of hilarity that come at the expense of the far-reaching screenplay by Michael Almereyda (his take on Hamlet back in 2000 is grotesquely underrated) are at times unexpected yet fully earned. Simply put, a film like this would have a hard time getting made — on any level — in today’s movie-making climate, so it’s all the more exciting to see something this willfully bizarre and enjoyable.
At times the film feels cut from the same sort of whacked-out cinematic cloth that Terry Gilliam uses to weave his dense and unclassifiable tapestries of genre-blending. Basil Poledouris’ thundering and rousing score sets the stage repeatedly for the action fireworks that continually unfold, especially in the second and third acts, while memorable supporting turns from Laurence Fishburne, Harry Carey Jr., Tim Thomerson, Ben Johnson, and Brion James spice up the narrative.
Originally completed in 1985, the film was set to be released in August of 1986 by Orion Pictures, who then delayed it until March of 1987, then September of 1987, before deciding on a straight to VHS release in the fall of 1988. Cherry 2000 was likely too much of a good thing for people to understand it at the time, likely vexing marketing departments and studio heads; those days of pushing creative and unique gems like this one through some sort of studio funded pipeline seem long gone. The Kino-Lorber Blu-ray is sharp as a tack, with great color saturation and excellent sound quality.
❉ Nick Clement is a freelance writer, having contributed to Variety Magazine, Hollywood- Elsewhere, Awards Daily, Back to the Movies, and Taste of Cinema. He’s currently writing a book about the works of filmmaker Tony Scott, and co-operates the website Podcasting Them Softly.
❉ He is also a regular contributor for MovieViral.com, a site dedicated to providing the best news and analysis on viral marketing and ARG campaigns for films and other forms of entertainment.