Still best known for co-starring in the teen-horror cult hit "The Craft," Robin Tunney has what it takes to become a grown-up leading lady of some measure. But it won't be via her part in "Cherish," an extraordinarily silly thriller that casts her as a computer animator confined to house arrest in a San Francisco loft. That's the temporary punishment visited upon Tunney's character, Zoe Adler, as she awaits trial for running over a police officer with her car. Her movement restricted by one of those ankle bracelets that have become such valued fashion accessories to the likes of Dr. Dre, Zoe is all shackled up with no place to go. At least she has plenty of free time to iron her hair, tool around on roller skates, fall down a lot and make clumsy passes at both her delivery boy and the county deputy (Tim Blake Nelson) who periodically shows up to monitor her progress. Tunney's role, in other words, is to act like a ninny.
As Zoe cools her heels in SanFran solitude, she is a sitting duck for a mysterious stalker who actually committed the crime of which she has been accused. That this setup is wholly contrived (it's "Panic Room" turned sideways, sort of) does not dull its dramatic potential. But director/writer Taylor takes it in directions that are even more contrived. There's not enough mirth, apparently, in making Zoe's downstairs neighbor a midget: He has to be a midget in a wheelchair. A gay midget in a wheelchair. A Jewish, gay midget in a wheelchair.
Zoe's obsession with pop hits of the 1970s and '80s is submitted as an ironic comment on the nature of fantasy and desire. (At times, the soundtrack-dominated movie seems more deserving of the title "Clearance" than "Cherish.") Taylor is obviously aiming for the Bret Easton Ellis bull's-eye of infusing pop-cultural banalities with unintended menace. But all the recontextualizing in the world won't make Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes" snap to life with a sinister edge. No matter what you try to do with it, it's just going to lie there and suck, like it always did.
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