I think Judge Norman Short speaks for himself when he says a lot of people like cheese. DVD Verdict does not support or condone cheese of any kind, especially Brebis du Lavort. Oh, wait, he was talking about cheesy movies. Those we do support and condone. Read his review of this piece of '80s sci-fi charolais.
Until He Meets The Real Thing.
My first thought was that the title of this film should have been Cheesy 2000. The film can be taken as an extremely cheesy and rather sad attempt to portray a post apocalyptic world, or alternately as a campy parody of films such as Mad Max. Cheese it might be, but a lot of people like the stuff, and I've always had affection for this film. A nice transfer from MGM makes this a film worthy to look at, but a less than stellar effort on the sound and extra content offsets the appeal.
Facts of the Case
In a world after an undisclosed apocalyptic event, recycling the remnants of the old culture seems to be the pinnacle of human achievement. Sam Treadwell (David Andrews, Hannibal) is a relative bigwig in this trash-collecting culture as a head of a recycling plant in Sacramento. One of the perks of the job is Cherry 2000, a lifelike robot who fulfills his every wish. Yes, every wish. During one particularly sudsy seduction Cherry fries her innards, and Sam is heartbroken. He tries his hand at dating a real life woman, but in this day and age you need a medical report and a legal contract for even a single date. So now Sam, armed with the memory chip from the lost mechanical love, ventures out to the badlands looking for a new Cherry chassis. But the badlands are inhabited by cookout-loving yuppie hoodlums, and he needs a guide. He finds one in the person of E. Johnson (Melanie Griffith, Working Girl) a girl with the voice of a bimbo but the car, guns and ammo that would make a Texas redneck green with envy. Battles ensue as the pair tries to invade the hoodlum's turf and retrieve another Cherry. And with a complete shock to everyone, romance just might be blooming between Sam and the girl.
I saw this film as a cute but really silly and cheesy sci-fi/action flick when it first aired. It was only later on that I started taking it as a parody, which makes the film rise above pure Velveeta into something really funny. The idea of these yuppie-type New Agers inhabiting the desert in these geodesic bubbles taking the place of the thugs in Mad Max is worthy of a laugh. And the guys will all get a laugh (to say the least) at the idea of the robotic woman who can cook a favorite meal, listen to all his stories, and drop her dress on a dime.
Though Melanie Griffith has had more failures than successes in her career, she really isn't bad here. She manages to be tough at times while vulnerable at others. And the biggest surprise is the presence of long time Western favorite Ben Johnson, who plays a retired hunter out in the badlands. He actually gets a good speech or two, though most will wonder why he's in the film in the first place.
The film has enough action pieces to break up the often-ludicrous story, and most of them are well done. I particularly liked the car suspended by the giant magnet over the canyon with our heroes inside scene.
There isn't a lot to say to defend the film, except where it parodies other post apocalyptic films (and to tell the truth I'll never be sure the parody was intentional). But it's still a fun diversion, and one I've watched several times over the years.
This is the first time since the original theatrical run I'd had the chance to see the film in widescreen, and the image quality is quite good with this 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. There are few film defects such as nicks or blemishes to be seen. There is a bit of color bleeding and the black level is barely adequate, but it still looks quite nice.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The sound quality is another story entirely. Though dialogue is anchored in the center and clearly understood, there is virtually no channel separation in this Dolby 2.0 surround track. There is little bass extension and no directional pans to be heard. I also found I had to turn the sound up farther than normal to hear properly.
The extra content is actually a little more than is typical on MGM catalog titles, though that only means there is more than a trailer included. "The Making of Cherry 2000" is called a documentary on the box, but it is really a five-minute promo featurette. It isn't bad as such fluff pieces go, but a documentary it is not. This is the only other extra content.
The film has plenty to question as well. How on earth did we get a planet like this where toaster ovens become valuable? How could a society capable of building a Cherry 2000 completely lose its ability to rebuild? Why did Lawrence Fishburne take a bit part in this? Why didn't the market for Cherry 2000s become glutted and vain women in bars become extinct? The questions will probably never be answered. I'm glad I can take it with a tongue in cheek and not have to try.
B-movie fans and cheese lovers alike will enjoy seeing this mini-classic again. The disc itself doesn't really warrant purchase except for real fans of the film, but a rental would make for a fun evening.
The film itself is given a pass because I'll give the benefit of the doubt that this was meant to be a parody. MGM is fined for a substandard soundtrack, lack of English subtitles, and minimal extra content on their DVDs, but sentence will be suspended upon receipt of a working Cherry 2000 model. For evidence, of course.
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