Of all the post-apocalyptic films made in the 1980s, only “Cherry 2000” dared to explore the effects that the collapse of civilization would have on the supply of sex robots. The prognosis is grim, my friends. According to the movie, the sex robots that you take for granted today will become rare after World War III. Replacement parts will be especially hard to find. So you’d better keep your sex robot in tip-top shape! Lube her chassis regularly, as specified in the owner’s manual! That’s the message of “Cherry 2000.”
One evening in the far-distant future year of 2017, an ordinary man named Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) comes home from a hard day’s work seeking nothing more than a quiet night with his robot sex wife. She is the Cherry 2000 model (played by Pamela Gidley), and Sam loves her deeply. Cherry loves him, too, by which I mean she was programmed to act like she loves whoever bought her, and Sam bought her, which I guess is the same thing. Sam and Cherry start making out on the kitchen floor after dinner, as newlyweds (newly-boughts?) often do, and they’re so passionate they don’t notice that the sink has overflowed. Within seconds, Cherry has been short-circuited by the water and soap suds.
“You can’t get these things wet?!” is what you are thinking. Believe me, buddy, I was as surprised as you. She eats and drinks like a human being, but a little dishwashing soap shuts her down. If I were Sam, I would definitely have some choice words to post on the Cherry 2000 manufacturer’s Facebook page, if the apocalypse hadn’t destroyed the Internet. (SEX ROBOT DIES IF IT GETS WET!! ZERO STARS!! DO NOT BUY!!)
Oh, right. The apocalypse. They had one of those vague ’80s-movie apocalypses, the kind where the futuristic cities remain more or less intact but everything else is a desert wasteland filled with either unruly teens or grizzled prospectors. Also, the economy is now somehow based on recycling old appliances, I think, according to the brief scene of Sam at his place of employment, where there’s a long line of people trudging forward with carts full of junked microwaves and toasters and such. Look, I don’t know what’s going on. I didn’t write the movie. Nobody wrote the movie.
Anyway, Sam removes Cherry’s memory “chip” (actually a miniature compact disc), figuring he can install it in another Cherry and it’ll be like nothing happened. All the Cherry 2000s look the same, of course, which has got to be weird if there are other guys in your social circle who bought the same robot sex wife as you. Alas, Sam learns that the Cherry 2000 was a limited edition — because it breaks down at the first hint of dampness, I would guess — and that finding another one will be difficult. But he will not be deterred! Cherry is the love of his life. Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no world post-apocalyptic enough, etc.
The movie now sets up a classic “hero’s quest,” wherein our fearless protagonist will face all manner of peril in order to replace his robo-whore with another one that looks just like her. It is exactly like “Lord of the Rings.” Sam’s journey has the requisite multiple layers of wild goose chases: first you have to go to this weird place and find a guy, and he’ll tell you how to get to this other weird place, and at the second place there’s a map to the third place, and that’s where the thing you’re actually looking for is. Nobody can ever give all the instructions all at once.
Sam’s first destination is a Wild West outlaw town called Glory Hole. Yes, Glory Hole. Look, I don’t care how much of an apocalypse you had, no one’s ever going to name a town Glory Hole. That’s the second least believable thing about the movie, after the part where having a sexy android wife who says she loves you isn’t considered the saddest thing in the world by everyone who hears about it. Sam’s in the town of G.H. (I’m not acknowledging it anymore) to hire someone to guide him into the even more dangerous, even more wasteland-y territory where the spare Cherry 2000s are believed to be stored. In keeping with established movie precedent, this treacherous area is called Zone 7. Sure, we’ll give the useless boondocks town a raunchy name, but the scary important place just gets a number.
The guide that’s been recommended to Sam is named E. Johnson, and Sam is astonished to discover that E. Johnson — prepare the smelling salts for your imminent fainting! — is a lady female woman person of the opposite sex! She is played by Melanie Griffith, who at this time was not the major A-list Hollywood star that she would eventually be for a few months.
E. Johnson and Sam hop in E. Johnson’s awesome hot rod and head out into Zone 7, located in the Nevada desert, which even pre-apocalypse is an hellish landscape uninhabitable by man. Zone 7 is controlled by a mean dude named Lester (Tim Thomerson), who hates outsiders for undisclosed reasons and tries to kill everybody just because. Sam and E. Johnson’s narrow escapes from and violent confrontations with Lester are the kind of thing that would be exciting and adventurous in a movie that was capable of conveying those sensations. Instead, they merely yell a lot, and say inane things like “Whoa!” and “Here we go again!,” and Melanie Griffith’s expression and tone of voice never change. No, it does not turn out that her character is an android, but that’s an honest mistake to make.
Through it all, it is apparent that Sam and E. Johnson are destined to fall in love. They make wise cracks and argue with each other, and falling in love is the only possible outcome for movie characters of the opposite sex who engage in those activities. But Sam continues to replay Cherry’s memory chip, forlornly listening to his broken computer repeat the last things she said to him before she froze up. He has no interest in another (i.e., a human) woman! This leads to some tension between him and E. Johnson, especially after E. Johnson misleads him about something. “Say what you will about Cherry, she never lied!” Sam yells, to which E. Johnson retorts, “Well, I’m not a f****** robot!” Cherry, on the other hand, was a f****** robot. That’s literally what she was built for.
But I digress. They run into an old buddy of E. Johnson’s named Six-Fingered Jake (old-timey actor Ben Johnson), who lives in a cave and is surprisingly chipper considering he lives in a cave and only has six fingers. Six-Fingered Jake helps our heroes by telling them the next stop on their scavenger hunt: they have to go find Stinky Pete or Slappy Jack or somebody and fly his airplane to what’s left of Las Vegas, and that’s where the Cherry 2000s are. They do all of those things, eventually, although there’s a lot of shouting involved, and it kind of gave me a headache, but finally Sam inserts Cherry’s memory chip into a new Cherry body, and presto! He has his creepy fake wife back! That’s when he realizes he’s in love with E. Johnson and leaves the newly resurrected Cherry behind with the outlanders! And they all live happily ever after, except Cherry, who is bewildered and not really alive anyway, which shouldn’t be a problem in Las Vegas.