Reviewed by Reed Hubbard
Rating: 7.5 Beans
he post-apocalyptic wasteland is the location for many a science fiction movie. Despite the fact that it has already been done to near perfection by George Miller with "The Road Warrior," numerous others have tried to stake a claim in that plutonium saturated desert, filling their little corner with crazed bikers, abandoned buildings, refurbished vehicles, and unwashed, huddled remnants of humanity. Take "Solarbabies." Take "Escape From L.A." Take "The Postman" and "Waterworld." And take "Cherry 2000," please!
This is about as bad as the "after the big war" sci-fi flick gets. Looking like it was made on a budget of thirteen dollars, the movie starts in Anaheim, California in the year 2017, where yuppie recycling executive Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) is driving home in his futuristic three-wheeled car. He enters the house to find Cherry, his loving girlfriend. They start necking on the kitchen floor as the sink overflows. Itís all suds Ďní sex until ZAP! Cherry shorts out. You see, sheís actually a machine - a sort of twenty-first century Stepford wife who is controlled by a mini compact disc (although everyone in the film calls it a "chip") located behind her ear. "They donít make Ďem like this anymore," the appliance/robot repairman bemoans. He tries to sell Treadwell a newer model, but Samís not interested. He wants his Cherry 2000 back. His buddies take him to a singles bar where couples draw up legal contracts before engaging in one night stands, but Sam is turned off by all the litigious romance. His old fashioned heart belongs to his droid.
This being the future where some nondescript calamity has altered society, a guy canít just run down to Crazy Fernandoís Discount Used Android Lot for a Cherry 2000. No sir! They can only be found in some goofy restricted sex doll graveyard located in the forbidden zone. Treadwell heads off to a town on the edge of the wasteland where he hires a "tracker" named E. Johnson, played by a redheaded Melanie Griffith. They hop in her Mustang and tool off into the desert, facing all the requisite post-nuke human dregs. The leader of the gang that rules the "zone" (as they call it) is Lester (Tim Thomerson), a psychotic killer who has built an oasis in the desert called "Sky Ranch." As they dodge Lesterís gang in pursuit of the new Cherry, Treadwell and Johnson start to bond, with even a small romance blooming. But Sam canít get his sex machine out of his mind. Itís only after he gets her that he realizes what he really wants - a flesh and blood woman. A woman likeÖE. Johnson!
Melanie Griffith is most believable when playing a hooker or a porn star, as in "Body Double." Sheís even pulled off other roles, like the blue collar secretary in "Working Girl." But a gun-totiní, hard-drinkiní, smart-mouthed bounty hunter she ainít, especially when her sassy lines are delivered in that barbie doll voice. She tries to play the part, but the role is just too much for her. In one scene, she grabs a whiskey bottle and turns it up, but rather than slugging it down she takes little girlie sips, as if she were drinking a Diet Coke. She is terribly miscast and sticks out through the whole movie, but she didnít cause this film to be a zero. No. That distinction belongs to Michael Almereyda and Lloyd Fonvielle, the guys who wrote this drivel. They seem to have come up with a general outline for a story that they couldnít finish, so they improvised. For example:
How do you get across a river in the wasteland? If youíre E. Johnson, you let the bad guys pick you up with a magnetic crane and move you into position to be attacked from all sides by rocket wielding commandos. You then climb out of the sunroof and attach your winch to the crane cable and shoot the crane operator, who releases the magnet and conveniently lowers you into a huge concrete drainpipe from which you can slide down to your buddyís underground hideout. And Johnson says sheís done this "hundreds of times." Thank goodness the bad guys have always been so cooperative! If they really want to kill Johnson and Treadwell, why not just pick up the car, quickly raise it to 100 feet, and let it fall? Huh?
Thatís just one question, but there are more pressing ones that need to be raised here. Like, why canít Treadwell find a Cherry 2000 in Los Angeles? Why does he have to travel to some restricted place out in the desert, and why is it restricted in the first place? All the graveyard is is a half-buried Vegas casino. How did Samís former L.A. girlfriend end up with Lester out in the middle of the desert? And what the heck happened to cause all this mayhem in the first place? Half the fun of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie is hearing the account of the big war/economic collapse/alien invasion that led up to the current situation. Weíre given none of that. All we get is Sam saying, "I gotta go out into the forbidden zone to find my love droid!" Iím not a guy who has to have everything spelled out for him, but give me a bit more background than that!
There are some bright spots. Tim Thomerson is funny as Lester and the scene at the singles bar where the couples argue about the number of coital episodes and the "oral clause" of their sexual contract is a precocious spoof of the Ď90s dating scene, but these are only brief moments. The rest of the movie is stupid and feels unfinished, as if the producers cut a big explanatory scene from the final release. I guess they figured no one was going to see the movie anyway, so why bother to explain it?
Well, I saw it, and I wish I hadnít. In fact, Iíve seen it before, years ago. I actually canceled my subscription to HBO in 1990 because they played this movie three times in the same week (true story!). Itís amazing how much of it I had forgotten. After seeing it this week I have lots of questions, but the main thing I want to know is how I can forget it all over again.
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