Even Heather Graham as a lesbian porn director can’t save “About Cherry”

I’ve sat through a lot of movies in my lifetime and plenty of them have left me wishing it were a possibility to be reimbursed with the time so cruelly sucked out of my life. Very few films have made me pull out a journal to furiously take notes in the dark due to pure astonishment someone threw money at it to bring it to life. About Cherry is supposedly a coming-of-age film about a beautiful girl looking for ways to leave her terrible home environment and finds herself in the adult entertainment industry. The reality is, there was almost no entertainment to be had for the tiny adult writing this column.


Ashley Hinshaw as Cherry

The film opens with a beautiful young girl, Angelina (played by Ashley Hinshaw), laughing and feeling the sun on her face in her boyfriend’s pickup truck as they drive along a California highway. Soon, her head is resting in his lap and he kisses her as he drives. She seems carefree and happy but we soon learn she and her younger sister are living in a rundown apartment with their alcoholic mother (Lily Taylor) and their seemingly abusive stepfather.


Lily Taylor as Angelina’s alcoholic mother living in a den of unhappiness

There are few people in Angelina’s life whom she can rely on and we find out her boyfriend isn’t one of them. After some very uncomfortable moments of him going on and on about how beautiful she is, he tells her that he has a friend who will pay her to take semi-racy pictures to post on his website. She seems angered by the idea but shows up at the photo studio ready to make a deal the following day. Once she makes the money she needs, the boyfriend turns into an ex-boyfriend and with the help of her best friend Andrew (played by Dev Patel), she runs away from her crappy life at home and heads for San Francisco.


My biggest takeaway was that Dev Patel is the Indian Josh Radnor

She and Andrew luck out and are able to sublet an apartment shared with a cute little gay boy. At some point, Angelina finds employment as a cocktail waitress in a strip club and this is when things start to get ridiculous and was also the point at which my notebook came flying out of my bag. Everything starts happening too quicky and for reasons unbeknownst to the viewer. The lead actress is definitely sexy enough for the role but the dialogue and story behind the film are utterly confusing. To begin with, everyone seems to be really open to giving this girl whatever it is she might want. At no point in the film does it seem as though it was hard for her to come by anything. So the first question to come up for me was, “Instead of a life of naughty pictures or porn — why not try to get a job modeling. Or would counter-service at the Gap really be all that bad? She’s obviously well-accustomed to the service industry, perhaps waitressing at a high-end restaurant would be an option?”

The next and possibly most puzzling question came after one of the other cocktail waitresses told her she should think about being a stripper. She says she couldn’t do it because she’d be too shy but she “took pictures once.” (Um, yeah, like a week ago). At this point I was really hoping it was going to turn into a surprise dance movie — sort of a Magic Mike but with ladies. Sadly, there was no dancing and instead we are introduced to a very smarmy rich love interest for Angelina, Frances (played by James Franco).


Cherry lovingly snorts cocaine from Frances’ hand

Shortly after they meet, Angelina becomes Cherry and our heroine who was too shy for stripping is now totally cool with being directed to touch herself on camera.


Actual dialogue during scene where Cherry puts in her application to be on a porn website

The first director under whose tuteledge she tootles herself is Margaret, an older, experienced lesbian (played very creepily by Heather Graham, with a stereotypical lesbian arm band tattoo) who quickly begins obsessing over Cherry, much to the chagrin of her partner of eight years. This brings up drama between the two even though there is no interaction between Margaret and Cherry post-shoot and we’ve only known Cherry to be straight. What should have been a discussion about someone’s hurt feelings turns into a bizarre relationship-ender punctuated by the only lesbian sex scene the audience actually sees. And instead of being a loving one, it is quite violent.


Actual note taken during screening

These are only some of the problems consistently making this movie impossible to enjoy and made writing this review all that more difficult. The story goes from A to G with no substance in between and character development is so minimal it is difficult to like any of them. The bottom line is: The audience never really does find out about Cherry, nor do they get to know or understand Angelina. Even worse, there doesn’t seem to be a reason we should care. Save yourself some time and watch The Girl Next Door instead.

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