It’s strange, trying to play the “numbers game.” Here we are, on the final day of the year 2020, talking about a movie that was released in 1987, that featured a plot that was set in 2017, but referenced the number 2000 in it’s title… it’s enough to make even a mathematician’s head swim!
The pursuit for the perfect woman has scattered many men to the ends of the Earth trying to find her. The 1980s were no different, of course – and the sci-fi adventures of the era had a great time trying to envision what the future might be like – even trying to predict the faraway time of 2017…
In 1988’s ‘Cherry 2000,’ Sam Treadwell found his “perfect girl” and made her his wife. She tells him everything that he wants to hear, is supportive no matter what he does, is ready for sex in a hot minute, and absolutely adores everything about him. Every man’s dream girl, right? One minor catch about all her perfection: she is literally programmed that way. Unfortunately, when his decades-old sexy love-robot blows a fuse that is darn near impossible to replace in the modern circles of 2017, Sam must hire a tracker, E. Johnson, to help him find one out in the post war-torn wastelands of “The Zone.” But there are complications when Johnson isn’t what Sam expects and the vast expanse of the wasteland is not just a walk in the park.
As for as post-apocalyptic adventures goes, ‘Cherry 2000’ falls somewhere mashed-up between ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Waterworld’ (how do you like those references, eh?). As a futuristic representation of 2017, I’d say the filmmakers were a bit off the mark on where they envisioned the possibilities would be for our future Earth. Though, as with most good sci-fi, they have ideas that don’t seem like too far of a stretch from our real-life activities: lawyer contracts for sexual encounters? How many legally-binding rules could you come up that your partner would be forced to abide by?
This low budget adventure film features some well-known names, such as Melanie Griffith, Tim Thomerson, Ben Johnson, and Laurence Fishburne relatively early in his career. It was actually shot in and completed in 1985 but, for reasons unknown, was first released theatrically overseas in 1987 and didn’t come back to the USA until 1988 when it went straight to video. Since then, there has been a strong emotional declaration as to whether people love the movie or wish it would die in a fire.
For me, the movie is a pure fantastical journey. Part action, adventure, and even a love story, which didn’t feel overtly shoehorned into the film. Some of the outfits are terrible, some of the dialogue is crusty, the setting of Lester’s Sky Ranch is ridiculous; through all this, I still found that, more often than not, I was enjoying the silly ride. That may not have been the film’s intent back in 1988, but that’s my feeling for it today. On the whole, however, there’s not a lot of realism to the movie. It’s definitely something that you have to be in an open-minded mood to watch. Mix in the “love-robot” society and that a trained and professional tracker-for-hire is willing to take a complete rookie like Sam into the wastelands, and you have a movie that just isn’t based in reality. It’s meant to be fun and I think it accomplishes what it sets out to do.
The story is light-hearted, easy to follow, and from an action perspective, it rolls along pretty well. Tim Thomerson was a delightful addition to the cast, as he often helped really keep up the pace of the movie before it was able to hit a wall. The movie was made in the ‘80s, attempting to predict what life would be like in the 2000s. When watching it now with the technological advances of the day, the special effects aren’t great, but they still hold up all right for the kind of movie that it is. There is one section of the film, as Sam arrives at the Sky Ranch, that feels like a bad edit; it’s more of a “how did he get there?” moment, but the story moves on from there and does smooth out. The little red Mustang still inspires ownership envy even after all these years. Truly is a beautiful looking car, even when it’s beat up.
All in all, ‘Cherry 2000’ is a jewel from the late 1980s that actually feels like it holds up well. It does suffer from some goofiness, and whether that’s due primarily to the era that it springs from or if it was always meant to be as such, it’s still a fun ride!