"Cherry Falls" Movie Review

Starring John Ritter, David DeLuise, Allison Smith, and Kim Correll

"Uneven" is probably a good way to describe Cherry Falls. I'm a little put off by the title of the movie itself; although I don't usually comment on the NAME of the movie, in this case the title is a smugly wry and sardonic pun on the subject of the movie. Which is perfect, because the entire movie is, in a way, a smugly wry and sardonic pun on the subject of itself.

Am I the only person who's starting to feel that smugly wry and sardonic humor is getting tiresome? Maybe it's just that so many tiresome people seem to practice smugly wry and sardonic humor, probably because it manages to combine ease-of-use with a patina of exclusivity. Movies described as "indie" (a small subset of movies which are cheaply-produced outside the Hollywood star system) are practically a breeding ground for smugly wry and sardonic humor, and Cherry Falls is no exception.

The entire movie can be inferred from this single sentence:

A small-town serial killer is targeting virgins.

That's really all you need to know. There are several creepy basements, numerous "Twin Peaks" references, and hidden motives aplenty.

Certain elements and portions of the movie lift it above the grey slurry of "indie" movies, although never very far, and never for very long. Soon enough it slumps right back into a mythical parallel universe where all the girls wear impossibly cute shoes and carry impossibly hip purses, and where the guys all harbor Deep Dark Secrets. Eventually SOMEONE will rip back the covers of their soul and expose their Deep Dark Secret naked for all the world to see.

Apparently this movie was re-cut five or six times before its release, and by all accounts the version which was released shares very little in common with the original movie. Any time that happens, it's not for the best, believe me. Disparate elements are jammed up against each other like mismatched puzzle pieces, and the end result isn't particularly attractive.

You can see flickers of a much better movie (actually, you can see flickers of at least THREE better movies) of which my favorite by far was the final third of the movie. It's ludicrously over the top, and features a truly unforgettable performance by Jay Mohr. I mean "unforgettable" in the literal sense; fifty years from now I'll be eating goo at a nursing home, but I'll still remember Jay Mohr's Cherry Falls scenes.

I've been a big Jay Mohr fan ever since I caught part of his stand-up act on Comedy Central, wherein he tells a story about working with Christopher Walken that still makes me laugh just thinking about it. ("Are you kidding? The tail! I'd take the tail!") For crying out loud, the man has a tattoo of a giraffe on his bicep. How can you not like that?

Brittany Murphy (who played The Girl Who Loves Sign Language in Drop Dead Gorgeous) does an excellent job as Jody Marken, the canny protagonist. Michael Biehn (virtually unrecognizable with hair) puts in a remarkably calm performance as Jody's father and the hapless town sheriff. Candy Clark is scary good as Jody's drunken housewife mother. But really, it's all about Jay Mohr.

Summary: Sometimes brilliant, mostly tedious.

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