I don’t know what it is with movies about virgins lately (okay, so it’s really just Easy A and this movie–still, two films about the same subject released at the same time is quite considerable), but writer-director Jeffrey Fine’s aptly titled Cherry puts a Mrs. Robinson-type spin on the affectable, inexperienced youth, in this case Aaron (Kyle Gallner), a predictably awkward “nice guy,” who immediately stands apart at his nameless Ivy League school (presumably somewhere in the East Coast, though Cherry was filmed in Michigan–big up to Madonna) by virtue of being a precocious 17-year-old who has clearly never been laid.
Aaron’s sleazy, oversexed roommate, the self-proclaimed “Wild Bill” (D.C. Pierson), only serves to accent this particular point by instantly establishing the traditional “sock on the door” code, although Aaron’s Cub Scout neckerchief is used in lieu of a sock after Aaron rips it out of the shadowbox his mother, Susan (Stephanie Venditto), had made for him (um, yes, très embarrassing). It soon becomes obvious that Aaron has zero sex life based on the zero number of times he has ever needed to use the neckerchief.
Luckily for Aaron, he meets a, shall we say, “more seasoned” female student named Linda (Laura Allen) in an art class that he isn’t technically enrolled in. Linda makes her free-spirited nature known from the outset, suggesting that she and Aaron cut class to go get coffee. Even though Aaron protests at first, citing the fact that it’s only the first week of school, he figures he’s in no position to turn down an offer from anyone expressing an interest in him, social or otherwise.
Their relationship quickly escalates to a level where Aaron often finds himself having dinner and spending the night at Linda’s, in spite of her daughter, Beth (Britt Robertson), being totally averse to his presence (though we later find out it’s because she is enamored of him), as well as the regular cameo of Wes (Esai Morales), Linda’s boyfriend who also happens to be a cop. The entire dynamic makes for a healthy dysfunction until it becomes apparent that Aaron cares for Linda in an “I’m in love with you” sort of way. These mounting sentiments (a.k.a. the intense desire to fuck Linda) begin to interfere with Aaron’s ability to concentrate in school. As an engineering major, his final assignment for the class is to develop a method for walking on water. With his mind on other, more sexual, topics, this is nothing short of a herculean task.
The labyrinth of physical and emotional entanglements in Aaron’s life worsens when Linda’s daughter confesses that she loves him and wants him to be her first (mind you, she’s only fourteen years old). Aaron, mildly flattered by Beth’s admission, shirks her advances, instead opting to hurt her in the worst possible way (rather than the best, which would be to oblige her request to deflower her. I’m sorry I just said “deflower.” I never even understood that expression.) by having sex with her notoriously loud mother while Beth is within earshot. Everything, at this juncture, comes crashing down around Aaron: He gets in a car accident with Linda and Beth, he gets a D on one of his engineering tests, and his parents refuse to pay for his tuition anymore. But hey, at least he lost his virginity.
Cherry, while compared in reviews to Juno and Little Miss Sunshine as a “wry and poignant sleeper,” is neither wry nor poignant. Actually, Easy A is probably wrier and more poignant when you get right to it. But Cherry is a breath of fresh air in the current landscape of dramatic thrillers and overwrought melodramas that tend to dominate the fall catalogue of movies (Burlesque excluded).