Sam Treadwell (David Andrews) drives home one night through the city, and once he reaches his destination he knows the welcome he has been anticipating will be waiting for him. Sure enough, once he goes inside Cherry (Pamela Gidley) is there with his dinner ready and a little conversation to make him forget about the tough day he's had, then one thing leads to another and they end up on the floor of the kitchen, making love. Or that's the idea, at any rate, but once the sink overflows with soap suds and Cherry gets wet, she short circuits leaving Sam a very unhappy man...
You'd have thought they'd make these things waterproof - you never know what kind of liquid might be about. Or maybe you do. Anyway, while it was nice to see a sci-fi variation on one of the most famous scenes from Confessions of a Window Cleaner, Cherry 2000 was not really a comedy, or a soft porn movie either. It looked more like an example of a post-Mad Max apocalypse flick of the kind the Italians liked to churn out during the eighties, not at the start, but because of where Sam ended up. Now that his robot has gone kaput, he wants a replacement but the man in the shop tells him that although he can save the memory on disc, he needs a whole new model to put it in.
The memory, that is. Alas, Cherry 2000s are hard to come by, and the only place that still stocks them is out of town: way out of town in the desert landscape of Zone 7, typically a no-go area for the likes of city dweller Sam. Nevertheless, he has convinced himself that he's in love with this automated blow-up doll, and so sallies forth to the outskirts of the zone to see if he can pick up a tracker to assist him, as he is well aware how poorly trained he is in negotiating rough terrain, not to mention rough locals. He finds one in what would be called a one-horse town if this were a Western, and the tone (and a couple of oldtimer cast members) of this suggests that you're meant to regard this as an updating of that venerable but by this time dwindling genre.
The tracker he hires is E. Johnson, played by nobody's idea of a tough guy, Melanie Griffith. She may set her jaw, brandish the odd machine gun and put most rally drivers to shame in her customised car, but that squeaky voice does not do her any favours in the intimidation stakes. The sole reason that Johnson is a female character is to make us understand what is lacking from Sam's life, which is a living, breathing woman who can teach him all about romance, which leaves the plot somewhat hamstrung in that we can see where it is going from the moment Mel appears onscreen, but have to wait for the lead character to cotton onto what we have known all along, that machines are no substitute for the real thing.
This could have been sleazy, but as all Sam wants is to be loved and the nightmare of the future's dating requirements (we see him in a nightclub where lawyers are present to work out deals between the sexes), there is an undeniable sweetness to what is basically an offbeat action movie. Although it never reaches the full potential it seems capable of, many have responded to it over the years, which must be gratifying for its makers who saw it barely released back when it was first finished, and there are elements which make it stick in the mind in a way that slicker efforts of its day do not. Take the chief bad guy, Lester, played with misleading goodnatured relish by Tim Thomerson, who has some strange ideas the most dangerous of which are that he and his tribe should put a stop to any trackers. Then there is one excellent stunt - where Johnson's car is hoisted over the Hoover Dam by a crane; the bleak landscape does the film quite a few favours as well. Not brilliant, then, but not entirely worth dismissing either. Music by Basil Poledouris.