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MGM Studios DVD presents

Cherry 2000 (1987)

Sam: The man is a psychopathic killer!
Ginger: Don't impose your values on me, Sam.- David Andrews, Cameron Milzer

Stars: Melanie Griffith, David Andrews
Other Stars: Ben Johnson, Tim Thomerson, Pamela Gidley, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Steve De Jarnatt

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sci-fi violence, adult language, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:38m:15s
Release Date: 2001-02-06
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-B-B D+


DVD Review

Upon first glance, Cherry 2000 appears to be nothing but a rip-off of Blade Runner. I mean, we've got a replicant android, an android bounty hunter, and a post apocalyptic setting. Of course, upon further examination, some small differences appear. For example, the replicant is more of a sexbot, programmed, no doubt, in many forms of "pleasure." The bounty hunter is called a "tracker," and acts more as a futuristic antique dealer. Oh, and the post apocalyptic future is a pretty bright and cherry place. It isn't even raining! Also, Cherry 2000 is a comedy. I think.

So, in this future, romance is basically nonexistent. People go to sex clubs and negotiate deals with prostitute lawyers instead of pimps, which I can see happening. I mean, what is a lawyer if not a pimp for the criminals? Ok, so that doesn't make sense in the traditionally logical way, but I couldn't pass up a good lawyer joke. So anyway, an alternative to these dealings is to buy your own sexbot, complete with cooking and housecleaning skills. I'll neglect to mention all the sexist overtones here and just move on. Sam Treadwell (David Andrews, who was apparently in Fight Club) was the proud owner of a Cherry 2000, a top of the line androgyoid no longer in production. Unfortunately, after a spur of the moment romp on a kitchen floor covered in soapy bubbles, Cherry shorts out, and Sam is out of luck. How is he supposed to relate to a REAL human? Geez. Oh, and by the way, if might be a good idea to waterproof your mechaslut... or does the idea of a sexbot that can't be cleaned gross out only me? Anyway, he has Cherry's personality chip but no body. He hires E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith), a tracker who can locate a Cherry in the mysterious Sector 7 (isn't that where Homer works?). First, however, they must fight their way past Lester (Tim Thomerson), the despotic, but friendly and polite, ruler of the Outlands. Also, Sam begins to get funny feelings "down there," suggesting that the "E" in Johnson's name might just stand for "e-rotic."

The plot is pretty ridiculous, and that, coupled with the screenplay, leads me to believe all this was intended as a parody of the whole Mad Max, The Postman, etc. "after the apocalypse" genre. I've already mentioned the Blade Runner similarities, and there are also elements from Westworld. Elements of these different films seem to be just thrown together casually (why does it go from a 1984 city to a Western village?), in the vein of parodies like Scary Movie jumping from one spoof to another. The dialogue is never overly serious and often funny. For example, Lester is insane, yeah, but he also has a thing for Emily Post. He insists that his men remain clean and loyal husbands, and tells them things like "Be friendly, yet firm," as they head into battle.

Acting is rather over-the-top as well. Tim Thomerson is a blast as Lester, balancing the elements of humor and menace rather well. In a bit part as the titular Cherry 2000, Pamela Gidley is a pro at playing the dumb, useless blonde. As bullets fly around her, she comments, "Ooo, pretty!" and "I'd rather be watching this on TV." Melanie Griffith actually seems a more logical choice for the robot based on her performance. When a good friend dies, she expresses her inner turmoil by squinching up her nose like Meg Ryan. Tell me, WHY is she in movies? Finally, in a blink and you miss it performance is Laurence Fisburne as a prostitute lawyer. He even wears cool little Matrix glasses. Foreshadowing? I think so. But then, I'm an idiot.

For a film of an obviously low budget, this looks pretty good on screen. Set design and costuming are futuristic in a 1980s sort of way, and there are some pretty cool vehicle designs. The action sequences suffer a bit from cheesy explosions and confusing editing, but they come off ok in the end. In fact, I think the one involving a crane is better than quite a few Bond stunts I've seen.

There are certainly some problems with the narrative, however. Scenes appear in the trailer that aren't in the film, and the story would have made more sense if they were included. For example, Sam visits a repair shop to see if Cherry can be fixed and the owner says he'll look into finding a replacement. Then Sam leaves Cherry at the shop and goes to a bar. He returns home, and Cherry's broken body is suddenly there, on his bed, as Sam flashes back to a conversation about hiring a tracker and carrying Cherry home. I'm sure this cut precious seconds from the running time, but why the confusing editing? And this is but one such example.

Despite its problems, Cherry 2000 still rests firmly in the "plus" column for me. The script is amusing, the acting is decent, and the set pieces are serviceable. A lot of elements from overly serious sci-fi films are poked fun at in a campy way. Plus, who wouldn't love a film about sex robots? If I was marketing the film, that would've been my tagline... "Cherry 2000... the story of a man, a woman, and a crazy, horny sexbot." It would have made millions!

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: While MGM certainly isn't reliable, they do seem to be providing better transfers more often lately. Cherry 2000 is even anamorphic! Colors look nice and bright with no blooming or ringing. I noticed no edge enhancement or aliasing (thank you!), and digital artifacts were nonexistent. However, there were some problem areas: the picture exhibits quite a lot of film grain, and blacks looked muddled and grayish at time. Also, overall the image is a bit soft. The print used for the transfer was only in fair shape, with a few visible dings and scratches, but nothing major. Still, overall I was quite happy with this image.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: This is a very plain mix. Everything is pretty much anchored in the front soundstage, even during the action scenes. I can't say I noticed the surrounds kick in once. Still, dialogue is always clear and understandable, and there is some nice separation between the front right and left mains. Sound effects tend to sound a bit harsh and tinny, but it only becomes a real problem during action scenes. However, there are some nice directional effects during the action scenes. The score, by legendary composer Basil Poledouris (Conan the Barbarian) sounds quite good as well and fills out the main soundstage nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: This film is part of MGM's $14.99 "Movie Time" budget line, so I wasn't expecting anything but the trailer. Surprisingly, MGM has also included a short promotional EPK. It's far from the Making Cherry 2000 documentary promised on the back of the box, but it still is worth watching, if only to see how the studio was trying to market such an odd film.

Extras Grade: D+

Final Comments

Lovers of sci-fi B movies will not be able to resist Cherry 2000. I can't think of a funnier parody of the post-apocalyptic genre. Of course, if this wasn't meant t be a parody, then I feel bad for all involved. I'm not too good at feeling bad for others, so let's pretend that it is definitely a parody. Ok? Oh, and don't worry about the disc quality. If all MGM $14.99 releases were this nice, we'd have nothing to complain about.

Joel Cunningham 2001-02-28