After “Boogie Nights” and even “Star 80,” you’d think a movie about the porn business would be pretty gritty in 2012. Not so for Stephen Elliott’s “About Cherry,” which hit downloading services this past week. It won’t premiere in theaters until September 21st, although by then the word should be out: “Cherry” doesn’t pop, it’s “Boogie Nights” with a happy ending.
James Franco is heavily advertised as the “star” of the movie along with newcomer Ashley Hinshaw. But Franco did one day’s work on the film as a favor to Elliott. He’s fine, of course, but his role is really just an extended cameo. It’s Hinshaw and Dev Patel, as the corrupted corn fed ingenue and her clueless platonic pal, who get most of the screen time. Lili Taylor does her best (I wish she were more movies) as the cliched negligent drunk mother Angelina–aka Cherry.
Cherry cannot compare to Julianne Moore in “Boogie Nights.” She’s got a nice life while stripping, dancing, posing naked, have strange guys on top of her. She’s a porn star with a heart of gold–no drugs, no tattoos, no deals gone wrong. While Moore’s Amber Waves aka Maggie is a simmering, percolating mess, Hinshaw’s Cherry is a Doublemint commercial gone topless. If that turns you on, by all means rent this thing.
Hinshew is a beautiful all American blonde, so she’s right for this part of a good girl gone bad–but not too bad. She gets naked a lot, simulates a lot of different kinds of sex, and even has it with Heather Graham. But she’s sort of like Alice in Pornland. Nothing really bad ever happens to her. There’s just a lot of atmosphere and moody lighting. I’ve seen Cinemax movies that were edgier. In the end, Cherry gets to do what every actor–even porn ones–want do: direct.
Will people see “About Cherry?” in theaters once they’ve had a chance to watch it at home. I doubt it. By all means, download it or rent it. It’s harmless entertainment. But time spent in a theater should be of a more substantial nature.