Cherry 2000

By Adam Lippe

cherry-0Here’s the idea behind “A Canadian, an American, a Lawyer, and an Elitist”: Rhett’s favorite movie is Meatballs 4,  Shawn has an unhealthy fixation on Resident Evil, Richard scoffs at anything that isn’t pretentious and hoity toity, and Adam is a prick who hates everything. We all watch far too many movies, and spend our time analyzing them. So we each watch the same movie, write our analysis of them, and then go to a chat room to discuss it, unaware of what the others have written. A warning: if you haven’t seen the film we are discussing, it may not be best to read this article, because it is spoiler heavy.

cherry-16Analysis by a Canadian: Rhett Miller

Of all movie genres in the eighties, none was as stale and passé as the western.  The genre was basically buried right from the outset of the eighties, with the monumental flopping of Michael Cimino’s bloated Heaven’s Gate.  Attempts to resuscitate the genre did not fare much better, with Lawrence Kasdan’s star-studded Silverado a moderate disappointment in light of his success with The Big Chill.  So thus, with the western buried beneath its sandy plains, filmmakers were forced to find other ways of expressing the genre’s themes and preoccupations. John Carpenter did it best, with his Escape From New York, a re-imaging of Leone’s Dollar films with Snake Plissken taking the role of The Man With No Name, but there were many others to mine the western themes anew. Perhaps most interesting of all is Cherry 2000, a kind of hybrid between The Searchers and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, only with robots and breasts.

cherry-2The story is pretty simple: a man loses his robot lover and goes out on a search to find a replacement.  He is paired with a loyal companion, and the two scale the desert to find the titular sexbot. Instead of the machismo pairing of The Searchers, the man (David Andrews) is instead paired with the perky and beautiful Edith Johnson (Melanie Griffith), which naturally adds sexual complications to the story.  The film reaches its logical conclusion, where, like The Searchers, it isn’t about the man finding what he is searching for, but instead finding a change within his beliefs. John Wayne realized the hypocrisy of disliking the natives, just as David Andrews realized the hypocrisy of disliking women.  He does away with his Cherry 2000, and instead rides off into the sunset with his damsel in hand.  The southern sands glow a nostalgic and romantic orange.

It sounds just like a western, and a rather simple one at that, but director Steve De Jarnatt manages to play around with the genre archetypes just enough to make the proceedings seem fresh.  We get Ben Johnson, one of the western genre’s bygone heroes, in a playful role that further hints at the end of the classical western.  His character is greeted (not unlike Snake Plissken) with the catch phrase, “I thought you were dead,” which is a comment as much about the western as a genre as it is to Johnson as a character.  As if to further contort the classical western, the toughest character in the film is indeed a woman, as Griffith fires everything from bazookas to one liners.  Griffith manages to more than hold her own in standard John Wayne role, but she has breasts, and nice ones at that, so all the better.

cherry-21The western revisions continue when the heroes ride off into the sunset, it isn’t by horse, it is by plane.  There are, in fact, no horses in the entire picture.  The closest we get is a donkey, our sad and tired little Balthazar.  The animal is replaced by machine, just as the “Other” in the film changes from Indian to robot.  Rather than philosophizing on how Cowboy and Indian are really very much alike in The Searchers, Cherry 2000 spends a great time trying for the same conclusion with man and machine.  It is similar territory to The Terminator, but the proceeds are considerably lighter.  De Jarnatt has fun in his futuristic world, taking digs at the intense environmentalism of the eighties (in a great zombie-like recycling scene), as well as the backlash against television violence.  As a rescued Cherry 2000 is violently shot at during the finale, she states frankly, “I’d rather watch this on TV”.  Whether it is sending up westerns or society in general, Cherry 2000 is always about having fun.

cherry-15While Cherry 2000 is no doubt full of fun bits, it nevertheless feels rather slight.  It never really explores the parameters of this new future all that much, like whether or not traditional women are being phased out in favor of slave robots, or how these robots have impacted society at all.  These female robots are treated as little more than a novelty, when it’s pretty clear that they have become much more in this new society.  The world seems post-apocalyptic, but we are never really given any background as to why either.  The whole film just amounts into a pleasant little fable, and for what it is it is nice and enjoyable.  It doesn’t resonate the way Cameron’s machines do in The Terminator or Carpenter’s western hero does in Escape From New York, but then again, Cherry 2000 is a film lighter in both tone and scope.  It’s not about the future of mankind or the destruction of the United States.  When the credits roll, the theme of the film finally becomes clear.  It is about how man can only get a “cherry” once in their lives before wanting to move on to a fresher, new woman for sexual conquest.  Not exactly profound, but hey, it’s fun.

Analysis by an American: Shawn McLoughlin

Many films throughout time have advertised themselves to “have something for everyone.” Typically they advertise that they have action, adventure, romance, comedy, etc. Usually they either fail at one or more of these genres, or they lose sight of their overall objective. Steve De Jarnatt’s Cherry 2000 is interesting in that it did not openly market itself that way, even though that is exactly what it is, and succeeds very well at.

cherry-59The overloaded plot could have easily been played for more laughs than it actually was. When the central plot for the first quarter of the film is our hero’s quest to find a replacement for his sexdroid, you might expect the script to deteriorate to become lowbrow smut and contain crude sex jokes typical of numerous 80’s comedies. Thankfully, for the sake of the film, it never sinks that low. Instead, we realize that our hero is not simply looking for a vessel of sexual perversion; he is looking for love. His genuine love for Cherry, and the lengths that he goes to find her, is commendable, romantic and inspiring. By devoting himself to Cherry, he is not devoting himself to a robot, but instead to love itself and therefore secures the importance of the emotion. In a semi-post-apocalyptic future world where romance is insignificant, and casual sex requires a contract and legal representation, finding love anywhere would be a chore, or nearly impossible; even if everyone seems to be wearing the most extreme of Jean-Paul Gauthier’s 20XX fall-season line. Sam (David Andrews) first finds it in his Cherry 2000, the fact that she is a robot isn’t the point; the point is that he found romance, and more importantly, that he was looking for it.

All of that is shown within the first 15 minutes of the film, which includes a James Bond inspired title sequence that runs for part of that. Few films have said so much in such a short period of time, especially from a B-level movie such as this.

cherry-39At the point where E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith) enters the film, another element of sexism comes into play. Her role as a “tracker” (which seems to be part bounty hunter and part adventurer), is a dangerous job, and as expected, Griffith’s character has been hardened. She has become more masculine, and represses the femininity that she retains. This type of character has been done in countless other films, as has the dynamic played between the two leads here. But while their relationship is destined to reach the standard predictable end, getting there is made more interesting by having the object of the quest being a robotic female substitute. By using this as the device, instead of say, a trinket of some sort (see an Indiana Jones film) or an object needed to save the world/humanity (see The Fifth Element) the film is able to bounce around themes in record time and still come off sincere. Among the clichés is the forced interest in each other from being on the lonely road, the overly romantic male placed next to a hardened woman, a traditional love-triangle in its formation, and the fear that with an accomplished mission, a permanent separation. Again, there are thousands of films that deal with one or two of these themes, but most can’t pull even that off. Cherry 2000 manages to pull off all of them, and cleverly disguise itself as a sci-fi/western b-movie that doubles as a Mad Max parody. Even with parody, it succeeds in actually becoming superior to Mad Max by not ever taking itself either too seriously or too far over the top to completely lose its audience.

cherry-36Like everything else in the film the direction, while nothing overly spectacular, is better than most of its peers. Particular scenes, such as the Mustang hanging from a magnet attached to a giant crane, were done completely based in reality. No blue screens, or CGI, just stunt doubles and lots of things blowing up. This makes for a much more dramatic imagery when you add great wide shots of the Nevada landscape. This is how action films are supposed to be made. No fake sweat being splashed on the actors, or putting a fake backdrop behind them; it’s just an honest camera filming awesome stunts. There are only a handful of inventive, or even good, action movies, and for it to be good it needs to put you in the action and still retain humanity. This is why films like RoboCop, The Terminator, and Die Hard succeed and their copycats and sequels do not. With De Jarnatt’s gift for filming action scenes, it is surprising (and saddening) that he only directed one other complete film, Miracle Mile, which is also an exceptional.

The score is excellent, but hardly original. Basil Poledouris, who scored Paul Verhoven’s RoboCop the same year, arranged it. The two scores, while they do go in different directions, share very similar themes. I am sure that both films being released by Orion Pictures had something to do with his involvement. But if you compare the final moments of RoboCop when the credits start to roll, and the dangling car battle in Cherry 2000, it is impossible not to notice the similarities. Basil is one of the great composers that remain fairly unknown to the general public, hidden by the John Williams of the world, but always seems to find work, and be consistent in quality.

cherry-27If there is any fault in this film, it is in its second half when Lester (Tim Thomerson) is introduced. We know he is the villain because we are told, but with the exception of a few moments he just seems too docile to lead a group of would-be outcasts. It works well for the parody aspect that he has cookouts with his group and they all do the hokey-pokey, but it makes him become a much less effective villain. He has no real purpose for wanting to kill our heroes aside from that they are there, and relatively close in proximity. Still, it is not like this is distracting because or heroes do need to be in peril, so the silliness is necessary to both move the plot along and make the characters more dependant on each other.

There is more than enough good here to outweigh the film’s minor faults though. It may sound like I am reasonably biased, and to a point, I am. This is my favourite movie of all time, even if is far from the greatest. First seeing this film as an eight-year-old in February 1989, I have seen it at least fifty times since. About fifteen of those viewings were since the day the DVD came out which, before it was announced, I emailed MGM nearly every day asking for a release date. Reading the email reply with the press release I was nearly in tears. To this obsession, there really is no excuse because no film is worth that much attention, and even more so not deserving of such a reaction. But everyone has “their” movie. Cherry 2000 is mine, and even if no one else in the world can see the wonder that I do, I offer up no excuses to them.

cherry-6Analysis by a lawyer: Richard Stracke

Despite its flaws (or possibly because of them) I enjoyed Cherry 2000.  I can see why it failed upon release, but looking back a decade and a half later, it can be appreciated as a cultural oddity- a remnant of a future that never was. Arguably, this is the case with every science fiction film, but it the effect is grows more fascinating as society approaches and eventually passes the film’s present day.  The world of Cherry 2000 may be set in the future but it is impossibly intertwined with its production decade.

The 80’s are stereotypically known as a shallow decade. Image and consumption trump meaningful relationships. Computers were a part of daily life, but their true potential was still the thing of science fiction.  The concept of a disconnected society; one driven by primal urges, yet outwardly sterile pervades the genre.  Cherry 2000 parodies this by presenting us with a protagonist who is unable to have a real relationship despite such opportunities. Just like the masses of men who crowd live video chat rooms hoping to be acknowledged by a sexy foreign stripper, the hero finds himself unable to accept the baggage of a real relationship.  He’s content with meaningless chatter, a “good” meal and a little hanky panky. In fact, the ending suggests that his ex-girlfriend may have been a robot as well. She is more concerned with full bellies than the death of her beau.  Is this a jab at the airhead/valley girl type or simply an attempt to squeeze in another joke or two before the credits roll?

cherry-12Interestingly, after his lady in waiting ends up waterlogged, the film makes no concerted effort to demonstrate exactly how ridiculous his situation is.  It is perfectly acceptable to risk life and limb to get another “Cherry”.  Seconds after Griffith’s introduction it is clear that the conceit hinges upon his struggle to come to terms with a real woman, but despite his utter cluelessness/atrocious acting there is no substantial attempt at social commentary. The making of feature mentions that the film is about ‘relationships’ instead of straight action, but all of this is left to the viewer.  There is a clear divide between the passivity of the submissive/risk free housewife and the butch ‘go get ‘um’ Griffith, but the film doesn’t offer enough to make it worth looking beneath its shiny veneer.

It is a challenge to speak seriously about the film because I suspect that apart from the cheeky, yet tame innuendo, the creators conceived it as more of a crossover action hit for Griffith than a movie with anything to say. I can imagine someone pitching a comical Mad Max-esque journey into a wasteland to reclaim talking blowup doll without contemplating depth or logic. After all, what has happened to society? Why doesn’t anyone take any pride in their work (Cherries being vastly superior to new models)? Why the need to recycle toasters and such? I don’t ask for much, but a little context would have helped.

cherry-23The scene at Hoover Dam was also unclear. They were somehow able to leave hook their car in the tunnel, but the logistics and purpose of that technique were incomprehensible even by action film standards.  This scene, like all of the shooting scenes, dates terribly.  The sequences have the look of your typical low budget 80’s action film. I can’t fault them for these constraints, but it doesn’t keep the sequences from being the film’s least satisfying.  It is at its best when it parades its characters around in outlandishly ‘futuristic’ costumes.

cherry-30My biggest complaint is that it didn’t push things far enough.  It’s playfully amusing, but with such a concept, there are a plethora of lost opportunities.  I’m not talking about sex scenes (although they could have had some real fun with that).  I’m concerned with the lack of tension and the lack of edge of your seat thrills.  This is partially due to the budget/date of production, but not entirely.  The lead villain is never menacing because while Griffith and her customer are largely played seriously, he seems a joke.  Some degree of chuckle worthy tomfoolery is in step with the film’s tone, but he’s too silly to be seen as any sort of threat.  This detracts from the poorly shot actions sequences because I simply didn’t see any reason to worry about the protagonists. This may be due in large part to my jaded approach to action films, but a bit of suspense during appropriate moments would have kept the film consistently amusing.

Along the same lines, it never committed itself to full blown satire.  A film like Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is more successful because while it prides itself on the outlandish futuristic setting and impossibly inept thespians, it has clear targets.  Cherry 2000 limits itself to one- a man’s inability to have a real relationship.  Had the filmmakers explored this further or added a couple additional ‘subjects’ to the film, they could have had a superbly sweet concoction. As it stands, it is an amusing reminder of 80’s decadence.  Fun? That’s for sure. But as far as a long term relationship goes, I expect it would be about as satisfying as an hour long conversation with a Cherry.

cherry-57Analysis by Adam Lippe/Andrea Dworkin

Under the guise of a light futuristic “adventure” film, Cherry 2000 manages to set back the women’s movement hundreds of years, or at least until the movie supposedly takes place, in 2017. I am shocked and appalled that such a display would be allowed to be released by a studio at all. Luckily, because of rampant and nearly successful protest by my group, Womyn Against Sexual Pleasure, or WASP, the release was pushed back two years after the completion of the film.

Imagine the distorted minds who came up with such a premise. A man, after coming home from a light day ordering around his no-doubt minions of oppressed females, rapes his robot slave on the kitchen floor of their house. His all-powerful semen, as represented by the suds coming from the dishwasher above them, causes her to short circuit. It turns out she can’t be “fixed” (read: comply with his every wish, cleaning not just his dishes but his tool of evil), so he ventures out to find a replacement. Of course all of the human women, who are apparently only available for introduction to submission at a sleazy place called the Glu Glu Club, are only interested in negotiating the terms of their future violations amidst the presence of an attorney. It appears that in this scenario, women cannot speak their mind without needing legal assistance. One would assume it has become so dire, that they cannot fend for themselves, constantly having to use cattle prods or other apparatus to keep men from entering them from all sides.

cherry-18So our “hero” decides he has to hire someone to track down an empty vessel where he can implant his microchip that he salvaged from his previous beloved whore. The only person willing to take the job is none other than a lonely, desperate woman, longing for intimacy with a man, but hiding behind her gun, an obvious phallus replacement, that she must brandish at all times, lest she be “naked.” Though he offers her a significant amount of money for her services (should we call her a whore-wrangler? Is she not pimping herself as well?), several hundred in advance, we never see her being given anything but grief from him, on her methods, personality, eating habits, and ability to improvise. And what is the result of all of this? At first, because of his poor driving, he gropes her on top of her car and then gets upset at her for trying to help him understand the err of his ways in android-desire. Then, she falls in love with him for the act of tricking his newly acquired robot-streetwalker into spending the remainder of her life in a barren desert, surrounded by braindead housewife-types who’s only concern is sunbathing and eating finger foods all day. The poor body image message they send is equally appalling. How can woman-kind live up to that ideal of skinny bodies with a wide array of tight clothing to change in and out of (and be objectified in) traipsing around behind their men, mindlessly, as they try to curtail the whims of the main character. And what if they are to capture E. Johnson and the man holding the chain around her neck? Their leader aims, according to his statements, to bring them in alive. Does he mean to turn E. Johnson into another emptyheaded piece of property, until her tires of her and shoots her in the bag-covered head?

cherry-9Even the women who have not been defined fare poorly. What of Randa, who had been captured by the lecherous old man, Snappy Tom? He orders her around, forcing her to cook for strangers. When she sees fit, she betrays her guests, even shoots one of them. And when Lester discovers that they could not capture E and Treadwell, she is forced to offer herself sexually as a distraction, for which she is killed. Her death is even just out of frame, as if a woman is not deserving of a noble death, or even being acknowledged as more than a token, easily disposable, rather than a real person.

cherry-42Though what should be expected of individuals who name their locations things such as The Glory Hole; Obviously the orifice in which they desire to plunge their destructive organs. These are the same people who expect E to fall in love with a controlling, indecisive, useless, ineffectual, overpaid milquetoast, on the basis of his accidentally hiring her because no one else would respect him. How do we read a man who has grown so accustomed to being served that even when he supposedly sees the light at the end of the film, we suspect that he will find a way to eventually enslave E in the same way he had Cherry. Normally, I would wish no ill will on anyone, but… May the producers of this film always have to worry about their oral clause being a bit sticky.

cherry-34The Chat

Adam Was anyone else surprised that the movie was legitimately better than it was and therefore a little annoyed that it didn’t really fulfill the inventiveness of the first 1/2 hour? It kind of went on genre auto-pilot after that. There were flags of creativity, Thomerson’s women, and the aforementioned sandwiches. And Thomerson’s whole spiel with the target. And his hair. Or his wig. Whatever it was.
Richard The action scenes were far less interesting than the early more satirical scenes.
Rhett Yeah, it starts with some interesting ideas, but the ending is so telegraphed. It wraps up nice, but I still felt like the film could have been more
Adam I saw similarities to another Shawn favorite, Highway to Hell. Or The Warriors, where they stop off at a new point every few minutes and they only have to provide one interesting detail for that one scene, before changing location.
Shawn The ending is definitely the most disappointing part of the film. Or more precisely, the Thomerson areas. Which is sad, because, being a huge fan of Dollman, and Dollman vs. Demonic Toys, he is drastically underused, and underdeveloped.
Rhett It used the interesting female robot concept just to get the story moving, then seemed to just do everything else a typical genre film would do. But thankfully Melanie Griffith’s presence gave me an erection for the rest of the film.
cherry-19Adam The first 30 minutes, all the details are there and then they drop off. Maybe you enjoy the overflowing of toasters or the hanging car, which I thought was a great stunt. But not much else after that.
Richard That was one of my issues with it.  I stopped caring when the satire of the opening moments slipped away.
Adam There was even a great moment when he goes to the hotel and the strange Asian woman with the hat and veil offers him opportunities for company and she includes “Freds and Jeffs,” as apparently homosexuality is rampantly accepted in the future, which is revolutionary to present in an 80’s studio action movie.
Richard The action scenes were largely generic 80’s action.  I missed the cleverness of the Lawrence Fishburne lawyer. How about the fact that although you could tell that he would end up with the real girl, it never made a big deal about the guy being soooo obsessed with what was essentially a talking blow up doll?
Rhett Yeah, that was weird Richard, neglecting to develop that led me to believe that this was a normal thing, and that most males were practicing this sort of thing which had me questioning how humans were able to sustain themselves.
cherry-25Adam Well, I liked that they never acknowledged that. That the singles scene isn’t even worth the effort anymore. That true love can be found essentially in your own mind and your own creation. And be just as satisfying and not creepy as to be socially acceptable.
Shawn I admired that aspect Richard. It showed the acceptance of that type of sexuality in a live-action film, which, in 1985 was something non-existent outside some rather poor anime. It is one of those types of fetishes that everyone has thought about, but few admit to. And still deals with it in a mature fashion.
Richard I thought it was very amusing.  I just wasn’t sure if it was intentional satire/message based or simply lazy.
Adam Shawn, since you have seen it a number of times, is the movie, and especially act II and III, which are the most generic, a full satire? Or did they only manage to get the movie made if they promised to make The Road Warrior with a woman?
Shawn From what little information that I have been able to attain about the film, the movie was originally done to be a parody/satire of the Mad Max films. The sci-fi “Anaheim” idea was that not all areas would really be affected in a post-apocalyptic world.
cherry-8Adam Do you know why it was shelved?
Shawn Half of Orion’s catalogue was shelved, many of the films weren’t released at all except on video.
Adam But Orion didn’t go out of business until 1991, which was why Car 54, Robocop 3, and a few others took a while to be released.
Shawn RoboCop kept them alive for several years. But they seemed to always be on the verge of bankruptcy. I don’t know the full details. But in the 80s they always had more on their plate then they could eat.
Richard How long was it on the shelf? I’m not up on its history.
Shawn About two years. Completed 1985, short theatrical in late 87. Video came out in early 88. But I imagine it would be a difficult film to market anyway.
Adam But what are your views on it? Satire?
Shawn Too much sci-fi for the action audience, too much action for the sci-fi mental heads, Mad Max parody. It is certainly a kitchen sink film.
Richard It didn’t commit to anything, so it was less satisfying than it could have been. Had they made either the satire more pervasive or the battles more interesting it might have worked.
Adam All machine gun battles bore me. I often wonder if it happens to the filmmakers too. I did enjoy when that entire mountain seemed to blow up. That was so over the top, it was funny.
Rhett It was kind of hot seeing Melanie Griffith fire off a bazooka like nobody’s business.
Shawn Yes, the entire wiping away of the plateau. I enjoyed the unique play on masculinity.
cherry-17Rhett The film got a lot of mileage in her character, playing off male machismo stereotypes.
Adam And then there was the scene where they slide down the tunnel/funnel. I had an Adrenalin: Fear The Rush/Albert Pyun flashback
Richard That made no sense to me. I liked the shot of the car hanging (supposedly real). But I wasn’t sure what was being accomplished by hooking the car in the tunnel. I mean, I knew they were ‘getting through.’ But I didn’t understand the logistics. And they seemed to make the point of mentioning that she’d done it before.
Shawn What I liked was the more feminine play of the male lead.
Richard Shawn- isn’t there a line when she mentions that she’s more a man than him (or at least more masculine)?
Shawn There are plenty of films like Aliens that show female empowerment, but few show a more feminine male protagonist.
Rhett Yeah, i never really thought of it that way, but Griffith does comment a lot on his looks, making him like a female in that he is the subject of the audience’s gaze.
Shawn I can’t recall any where she implicitly states that Richard, but she definitely alludes to it. Such as making fun of him screwing Cherry.
Richard I don’t think it was developed very much, but what about the split between the comfort of a passive ‘housewife’/lady who needs protection and the active/domineering gung ho tracker.
Rhett He even has a few scenes where he changes and shows off his new clothes to the more masculine Griffith.
Adam Yes, but the goal for her, at least when she talks to Ben Johnson, is to feminize herself. To appear more attractive to Treadwell and men in general. She does comment on his dress: “I liked you better in the other clothes.”  “I always dress like this.”
cherry-33Richard That’s right Rhett- he was definitely inappropriately dressed to impress- as lots of ladies in action films are.
Rhett I think there is even a line about him getting his hair dirty.
Shawn There is an imbalance in both of them, which clearly points how they will meet in the middle. I don’t find the change of character unbelievable. We learn from experience. With Cherry, since she wasn’t real, he was only acting on what he thought he wanted in a woman. But after having a “real” experience with a real woman, his tastes changed.
Richard As far as his ex girlfriend goes (the one who lived with the bad guy), was it supposed to imply that she was a robot too? I mean, she was more interested in the lunches than the deaths- just like Cherry. It would make sense- since up until that point, he couldn’t handle a ‘real woman.’
Rhett Yeah, I took it that she was a robot, or at least that she had been domesticated to the point of being robotic.
Adam Perhaps he just preferred it, much to your chagrin Richard, without litigation previous to the sex.
Richard I knew it. The bastard wanted to put me out of business. Was there any explanation as to why the old robots were so much better/no one cared about craftsmanship? The apocalypse? Logically a sex robot would get more advanced as technology improved.
cherry-26Rhett I wondered that too, Richard. It was frustrating to me, since there was so much more I wanted to know about the history that was never explained.
Shawn I liken it to the acceptance that people today have to older model cars.
Adam Liken is exactly the word in terms of cars. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that they used Detroit as the place that the robots were manufactured. “They don’t care as much in Detroit anymore.”
Shawn The 1957 Chevy is often considered the most desirable car. Chevy 1957 to Cherry 2000. Definitely not a coincidence.
Adam So perhaps it is as much a representation of American’s love affair with their cars or machinery.
Shawn Machinery definitely.
Rhett Which would be why Ben Johnson’s character collects those old toasters.
Richard My lack of interest in cars caused me to miss that connection, but it is very logical.
Shawn I am not too knowledgeable about cars, but I don’t think that was an 80’s model Mustang that Griffith drives either.
Rhett But the recycling scene at the start suggests the opposite, that people no longer want to hold on to their older technology.
Shawn At very least, it certainly isn’t futuristic.
Rhett That scene seemed out of place anyway, though, used mainly for a sight gag.
Shawn There are always people who desire nostalgia, even if they are in limited supply.
Adam Well there are a lot of things that aren’t futuristic, notice how the prices are really low for everything. The hotel, $1.50? He orders a drink and a cruller (which he leaves without even touching) at the bar, and it only costs 25 cents (two bits).

cherry-50Shawn One complaint that I have, was the flashback-to-Cherry scenes.
Adam They needed to show something else. Especially as they had happened 5 minutes previously developing their past together. Then again, they even reused the airplane landing footage. So it was clearly made on the cheap.
Richard Yes.  I felt the same about the flashbacks.  Why waste screen time on it?
Shawn I thought, that by having the playback always being sex related, it somewhat poor that the sexual aspect was all he was romanticizing about. It is obvious that his emotional attachment was so much deeper then that.
Adam Especially because in the only scene we see of her active, she makes the dinner, and then takes it away from him. There’s a lot of odd tension in that scene and the sex seems forced, as if she wanted to self-destruct, or a way out. As if he had even bored a robot, so perhaps he would do the same with Melanie and her, at-the-time, real breasts.
Rhett Yeah, too many why’s for me. It felt like there was a whole act that was cut off from the start of the film.
Shawn I think that Ben Johnson was an obvious nod to nostalgia. As Adam pointed out, the toasters, he had a jukebox (working!).
Rhett Or an obvious nod to the western, which this film certainly was at heart
Shawn The film is full of romanticizing the past.
cherry-48Adam There’s a hidden bit of trivia in his performance. he initially refused to make The Last Picture Show because of the nudity. And in his first scene with Snappy Tom, when he orders Randa to go make them lunch. She refuses. And he says “Well you can go shit in your hat!” Ben Johnson says “Tom, I wish you wouldn’t curse like that,” which are the feelings of the real Ben Johnson.
Rhett I thought it was interesting that they kept saying “I thought you were dead” to his character.
Adam Very Escape From New York and also Star Wars, both of which are really westerns.
Shawn Yes, but Six-Fingered Jake is very much an Obi-Wan type.
Adam But speaking of Randa, on IMDB, she is listed in the credits as Snappy Tom’s woman, which is really creepy. She must be about 19 and he’s about 112.
Richard Is it less creepy than every man in America shacking up with robots?
Adam And is that better than having Larry Fishburne negotiating for you?
Rhett Larry Fishburne, doing for sex what Morpheus did for reality. His character was sadly underused,
Richard He was one of my favorites.  I wish it was more than a glorified cameo
Shawn I felt Laurence put more into his almost-a-cameo in Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3.

cherry-63Shawn I want to discuss the soundtrack score.
Rhett Conan meets The Terminator.
Shawn I have not been able to find much info about Poledouris. But it is VERY similar to RoboCop. Which he also scored. And also Orion released.
Rhett And he wrote Conan. And The Blue Lagoon.
Shawn It is a great score with a theme that goes through the whole film.
Adam The only bit of score I liked, and I really like his work with Verhoeven, especially Starship Troopers, was chapter 11, it was a bit of revved up action.
Shawn I really liked the hanging car score, and the overall theme.
Adam There was another weird goof I noticed. When Griffith is introduced they hide her in the dark and a hood. But they made the mistake of providing two close-ups of the darkened figure and you can see the face, and it’s not Griffith. It’s either a man or the mannish stuntwoman who appears in the featurette. I wasn’t looking for it, I mean, I knew the point of the scene as it was happening. But it was a distraction. And the second shot was a giveaway. I rewound just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken.
Richard There was another shot- maybe after their first drive through the gun men, when I believe the sun came up a few shots before it should have.
Shawn You are right, Adam. I think it was the stunt woman, but even if it isn’t it is not a very good likeness. Perhaps it was shot after the fact.
Adam It would have been easy to avoid if they just made the shot much darker and not lingered. A quick cut.
Rhett Well, video has a much lower color depth than film, so in theaters it most likely would have been darker.
cherry-60Adam It reminded me of a recent viewing of Van Damme’s Replicant, a scene in which his character is murdering a young woman, pouring whiskey on her. He lights a $20 on fire for his cigarette and to burn her and they cut to a close-up of the bill and linger way too long and you can see that it says on the back, “Motion Picture.”
Shawn One thing I did like, that might be the result of an error in the script or just part of the “car analogy.” But everyone seems to know what a Cherry model is. And as soon as they know that is what he is looking for, they freak out, or think he is mad.
Adam Maybe that was like the Game Gear. They were like “oh they could never improve on that.” “It’s an impossible task, and they never even bothered. That was the height of technology, 16 bit portable games.”
Rhett Much like the Lynx did between the Game Gear and the Game Boy.
Adam You shut up Rhett, or I’ll Bonk-headbutt your ass.
Shawn I think that Cherry 2000 hangs on a very delicate balance. I think it is about the limit that a b-movie can go without either being absolutely brilliant, or utter crap.
Adam But if it is just so very average, Shawn, why the enthusiasm?
Shawn I think I am not presenting it that way. Think of it as a pyramid.
Cherry 2000 is the greatest achievement that a B-movie can really attain. Anything else would make it teeter to one side.
Adam But what about Darkman, which exceeds that? It is entertaining on several levels. Darkman is funny crap, legit crap, and legit entertainment.
Shawn I feel Darkman is too much of an A picture. As I told Rhett, Cherry 2000 is my Meatballs 4.
cherry-52Adam And Six-String Samurai, which is a low budget movie, exceeds Cherry 2000 in all ways. It is fairly similar in content as well. As we know, B movies can be much better than A movies. But Cherry 2000 is a bit limp for that. It doesn’t try hard enough in the last hour. I was never really bored, but it fails out of laziness.
Shawn I will just have to disagree, even if it has to be based on bias. I can’t imagine watching Darkman, or any other movie fifty times, and not ever be bored.
Adam Evil Dead 2? You could easily watch that 50 times.
Shawn Evil Dead 2 is over the top. It doesn’t aspire to be anything more then a B movie.
Adam Yes, Shawn, but it succeeds. It is always trying things. Evil Dead 2 is oddly bold, leaving an actor alone for 45 minutes with just himself to play off of.
Shawn C2K wants to be more then it is. ED2 is definitely bold, and brilliant. But Raimi himself says that it was just kind of done. Not really planned as one would a different film.
Adam If Cherry 2000 wanted to be more than it is, it wouldn’t have played the last hour so safe. Compare it to one of your other favorites, Highway to Hell, where they didn’t have the money, but they tried new stuff all the time. Something like that, admirable failure, is why I can watch Schizopolis so frequently.
Shawn I don’t think it played it safe (except for the obvious ending) so much as it didn’t really succeed in going anywhere. But it also was also not going for anything serious at any point.

cherry-58Shawn Just for the record I am obsessed with David Andrew’s hair. I wish I could emulate it on my own person.
Richard What’s stopping you?
Rhett I want pictures.
Shawn Rapid hair loss. Or the receding of it anyway.
Rhett The infamous Al Pacino hair parting.
Adam Pacino is 60, and still seems to have most of his hair. Unless he’s been Travolted.
Richard I have no hair loss, but a noticeable white patch began to develop around the youthful age of 20. But that just makes me ‘distinguished.’
Rhett Salt n’ peppa. You make me want to Shoop.
Shawn Richard… You can just shit in your hat.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.