I Saw A Film!
With Iconic post-apocalyptic style and scenery (entirely lifted for the more recent Fallout series of games) this 80’s action/fantasy technology film is set in the year 2017, which must have seemed impossibly far away to the producers.
Here we have a fellow who is in love with a terrific android that looks amazing (because she’s played by a gorgeous actress (Pamela Gidley from Twin Peaks). She never has a blemish or a bad haircut (well, except those crazy bangs, what is up with that?), but her partner screws up and gets her wet and she breaks. Hmmm, they hadn’t worked out waterproofing? At any rate Sam is so despondent he opts to take a tremendous and dangerous journey into the wilderness outside the safety of the corporate city to replace his love. Could A.I. really replace a human lover? We know it can be enough for a temporary good time, but would/will a machine ever be stimulating enough to engage with as a true lover?
In thinking about AI and love, I concluded, that at least for my thinking, a partner is someone who doesn’t just pleasure you. And while, personally, I’m not someone who enjoys the competitive fighting that has occurred during aspects of my life, it is clear that a partner has to have their own life, their own interests and an agenda of their own that we can participate in and benefit from while they exchange with us. Having a house slave, no matter how good looking, could only be a toy. And I’m not saying there’s a not a lot of fun in a “toy”, just that you can’t base a whole relationship around a toy unless you really limit what you mean by relationship. Sam hasn’t worked this out yet, and he dedicates himself life and limb to replacing his house-toy.
Soon enough, after he’s nearly mugged by (the frequently spotted in these things) Brion James he will meet a challenge to his world outlook in the form of Melanie Griffith (poor guy!) who is perhaps the cutest renegade/action hero one could hope for. The film does everything possible to put her in some serious peril that she shrugs off as a working day, and after nearly being dropped into a gorge by a gang of bullet-slinging and rocket-firing baddies merely says that she swallowed her gum. I seriously think they looked for the biggest guns they could find to have her pretend to wield (I mean, one of them clearly couldn’t even fit in her future-retro Mustang). So it’s easy to imagine winks from the producers here.
Griffith has a lot going for her in terms of sweetness, she doesn’t just look 80’s future-cute-retro-sexy-anime hero, she has that amazingly adorable delivery to go with it. Her kid-like voice disarms all suggestion of real horror and reminds you that despite the really brazen psychopathy of some of their situations, it’s really all just a goofy fantasy. And while our protagonist Sam seems a bit unhinged in his hunt for the perfect replacement toy (do you know any collectors?), he’s just one of many goons in the dusty future-dystopic wild-west (Glory Hole?!) with a demented mission.
Of course Sam and, I can’t remember the name of Griffith’s hero, find themselves attracted, and Melanie does some very fun impersonations of Sam’s recorded pleasures from his Cherry 2000. While it’s cute and funny (much of this film is obvious romantic comedy), the point is a rather serious one. Check it: Sam is a kind of shut-in kid. He’s something like The 40 Year Old Virgin that would be created much later. Griffith’s hero doesn’t just do her job of getting Sam to his prize, she’s also hoping to pry him out of his masturbatory shell and bring him into a truer existence with her, of course, replete with all the dangers blemishes and possible fighting that that entails. [It’s a bit like a George Saunders short story called Jon that came out in the New Yorker in the beginning of 2003 and was pushed on me like a revelation (despite my own subscription to the magazine) by a would-be girlfriend who felt like I’d adopted a life-style that was just good-enough, because I was in a comfort zone that she wanted to disrupt and . . . well, that’s a private affair, . . .] Suffice it to say, despite Cherry 2000 (why do I always want to say 3000?) being 33 years old now, and basically a post-apocalyptic action rom-com, it’s got actual depth in it that deserves a second look, and is the element that makes it worthwhile. Without Melanie, however, it’d be a tough sell!
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