Cherry 2000: A Love Story For Guys Who Sleep With Japanese Body Pillows
By Alex Cranz
Sam Treadwell is madly in love. To the point that he’ll risk life and limb crossing a wasteland full of brainwashed mutants to save his love. It would be incredibly romantic.
But Sam Treadwell is in love with a Real Doll, or the 2017 equivalent.
The love of his life is a life-like female shaped android and after the two get up to some particularly intense nookie in some dirty dishwasher she breaks down leaving him with a broken heart, a serious case of blue balls and her “personality” on a disc.
So what does a hip 2017 business man do living in the super metropolis of Anaheim do? Why he tries to pick up a woman at a bar. A bar where the door is shaped like the labia of a woman and where sexual intercourse with people is now regulated by contracts and every woman seems to have a husband or pimp (one’s actually a very young Lawrence Fishburne) and shit is complicated man. Who needs that hassle?
Desperate for the touch of his android love he heads out of the city in search of a tracker who will risk the wastelands to help him secure another Cherry 2000 that he can upload the saved personality he has in his pocket into.
And that tracker happens to be Melanie Griffith rocking some serious 1980s cherry red hair.
The two set out on their quest. They fight these folks living an idyllic 1950 gendered lifestyle in the desert. They team up with a 6-finger tracker friend of Griffith’s character E. Johnson. They climb dunes of sand and fly across the desert and kill a lot of people.
So a man can bang a robot.
It is one of the most absurd films I’ve ever seen and I’ve watched a 1960s European cinema.
The crux of the film, the thing we as an audience must accept before we can be drawn into the film, is that this man can love a robot that lacks any human qualities beyond the physical and that that love can be worth the sacrifice of living humans.
This is not an easy task to accomplish. I’m fairly certain the only people who can accomplish it are the guys cleaning spooge out of their rubber dolls. As the guy listens to a recording of his sex doll vocalizing during sex and pondering the agony of his loss we’re supposed to empathize. Because he’s fallen in love. With an object. He’s basically spending an entire film looking for a fancy fleshlight.
We might not be able to empathize with his love of a sex doll but the people around him d. With only a touch of rebuke his friends tug him out on the town to commiserate over the loss of his doll and the man who sold it to him bemoans the loss of such a fine machine. Everyone in his great big city (Anaheim!) is okay with him wasting his life making love to a robot.
Then he starts on his trek with Melanie Griffith in her cool, non-revealing, adventurer outfit and everything changes. She’s repulsed by his desire for a doll, and repulsed by the world he comes from. She’s idealistic and believes love should come sans paperwork, drugs or batteries. She’s vibrant.
She’s a living human being. The film is not subtle. It loves her and all her badassness. It ponders how any man could love a robot when he has an eclectic individualist woman who can travel across the desert and battle mutant crazies like it ain’t no thang and still have time to wash some Clairol Red into her hair.
On their trek they run into Tim Thomerson and he’s got a band of people living in a trailer park. They all dress like it’s The Donna Reed Show and they behave much in the same way. The men grunt and grill and talk in a manly and exuberant fashion and the women serve sandwiches and behave in a bright and cheery manner and happily serve their men.
It’s a culture that has traded the real robots of the big city (Anaheim!) for the robots of an absolute patriarchal society. See. Not subtle.
Naturally Melanie Griffith will have none of this place and Sam Treadwell is still desperate to be reunited with his very expensive sex doll so they blast their way out of the park and kill dozens in the venture.
The climax of the film comes when this guy has to choose between Melanie Griffith, who has fallen in love with him for some reason, and a robot. Seriously. He spends three minutes trying to choose.
Ostensibly Cherry 2000 is a parable for men. Choose the great and real women instead of the constructs of society! Don’t be an idiot caught up on looks and penis feelings! That is an awesome thing to tell dudes and the framework of the film is a pretty brilliant way to tell it, but unfortunately the film’s lead spends the entire movie agonizing over this choice.
That’s just. No. The guy is a douche. Any film that asks us to be supportive of super badass Melanie Griffith with a career plan and a pistol settling for a man who’s longest relationship was with a toaster is just–I cannot seriously support that.
But Cherry 2000 is fervent in its desire to relate its tale. Desperate for us to understand the plight of the lonely loser in need of love. It is an hour and a half love letter from creepy fanboys to creepy fanboys. As an exercise into the bizarre for the rest of us it is a delight. This movie is seriously weird. Seriously seriously weird.
Yet as a romance? As a parable for weird dudes? It is a failure it empowers those dudes (“yeah we just need to find the right woman who will love our weird asses unconditionally and forgive us for throwing them over for a sex doll!”) while taking a really cool lady like Griffith’s E. Johnson and sticking her in a relationship with a loser.
- This was the second film directed by Steve de Jarnatt. He was in his early 20s when he made it and the inexperience shows, but he’s also not completely terrible as a director and he would one day direct one of the funnier episodes of Deadwood.
- This is the first film for writer Michael Almereyda. It shows. He would later go on to be a director. None of his films are very good.
- The film was shot in 1985 but the studio had no idea how to market it (BECAUSE HAVE YOU HEARD WHAT IT IS ABOUT OF COURSE IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO MARKET!). It ended up going direct to video in 1988 where a dude I know discovered it as a little kid. He fell in love with it and a few years ago at a party, wherein we watched 24 hours of films set in a post-apocalyptic world, he made me watch it. I was drunk, tired and cranky but immediately caught up in the infectious enthusiasm of the film and the sheer gall of the filmmakers to actually make the film.
- You’ll be happy to know that the dude who showed it to me does not own a sex doll or a Japanese body pillow. He could own a fleshlight. I won’t judge, but I also have no desire to ask.
- Should I ever get to interview Melanie Griffith the first thing I will do is ask her what the hell she was thinking when she signed onto this film. Then I’ll ask if I can hug her because holy shit this movie is crazy.