Every once in a while a film comes along that is so crushingly awful, that misses the mark by such a wide margin and that is so devoid of both soul and reason that it makes one grateful for the Razzies, the awards that salute the worst Hollywood has to offer.
Cherry, a mindless trawl through some appalling clichés that thinks it’s ‘saying something’ and which provides yet another unwelcome chance for James Franco to put his sleazebag face on, is one such film. It would sweep the board in a year that didn’t also include The Lone Ranger.
Written and directed by former grot star Stephen Elliot, Cherry is a trite, remarkably offensive public relations reel for the pornography industry, in which a girl from a tick-box white-trash home (abusive Pa, alcoholic Ma) travels to the big city and gets happy by getting them out.
Angelina, our hero (Ashley Hinshaw), ups sticks from small-town dullsville and heads for San Francisco with her platonic best friend Andrew (Slumdog’s Dev Patel). Before you can blink they’re sharing a crash pad with a flamboyant homosexual and Ang is working strip bars.
It’s here she meets Frances (a performance phoned in by Franco), a coke-addled lech of a lawyer and lo, Ang thinks she’s in heaven.
Quickly shifting up from the strip joint to the porno studio, Ang falls in with stalky lesbian director Margaret (Heather Graham‘s best role in…ever, really), falls out with confused, sexually ambiguous Andrew and gets miffed when her sleazy cokehead boyfriend turns out to be a sleazy cokehead.
And all the while you try to figure out why you should care about any of it.
All dressed up with indie pretensions, Cherry goes nowhere beyond some tasteful lighting and oblique camera angles. Ang’s troubles can’t paper over this soft-focus view of an inherently dangerous industry.
Standards have fallen in adult entertainment, as Jackie Treehorn once remarked. Not that you’d know it from watching Cherry.
The acres of nubile flesh on display may mean this becomes a guilty pleasure for some, like the Barbara Taylor Bradford novel purchased in the airport departure lounge on the way to a week in the sun.
But those kind of people also rate Showgirls. And you’re not one of those kind of people.